When I was four, I had a deep pink one piece bathing suit with a white ruffle around my legs. It either had polka-dots or little flowers in the accenting color on each section. I can still see it in my mind’s eye; I loved that bathing suit. I also loved the little boy with the blue-and-yellow raft. We made fast friends and I commandeered his raft for most of the week. He was my first beach friend.
The year that I was 14, I made a boyfriend at the beach. He didn’t know I was awkward, because who looks awkward in a killer blue bathing suit? (With glasses on since my astigmatism in the early 90’s didn’t mesh with contact wear.) Okay, so I was awkward, but I was apparently the only girl on our stretch of beach. He was cute with a deep, gorgeously thick Southern accent. I’ve Facebooked him. He doesn’t seem to exist anymore.
On our first day at the beach last week, we were playing in the “Little Water.” It’s what we call the tidal pool made by a sand bar when the tide goes out on The Point at Emerald Isle. It’s perfect for younger children. And parents. And grandparents. Really, it’s just perfect. A mom with a Green Bay (…) visor on struck up a conversation. She had a five year old, like BigBrother, and an adorable little 18-month-old who thought he was Big Stuff. We got to talking about how everything changes with the second child. “You wanna eat sand? Okay buddy! It’s fiber!” We laughed and compared mothering war stories. We shared what we do. We had the insta-beach-bond. Our five-year-old boys played together. It was awesome.
And then she went home.
I was sad, I’ll admit. It’s been awhile since I’ve made a beach friend. The past few years, I’ve been busy uber-entertaining two little boys who were too young to entertain themselves. But as they were busy splashing each other, building sand castles and chasing fish, I had time to sit, read, float and make a beach friend. But she was only in for an extended weekend. And she left. And I didn’t make another beach friend all week. Especially not with the two moms who laughed as their four sons pushed BigBrother under the LittleWater as they attacked him with inflatable sharks. (By the way, I totally did a non-slow-motion Baywatch beach run to stop that nonsense. In a bikini. Oh yeah.)
The only thing I know about my beach friend is that her name is, amusingly, Jen. I told her I blog and that I work for BlogHer, so maybe she’ll find me. But beach friends are best at the beach, just like camp friends work best at camp. The boys made a few beach friends over the week, but most of the kids on our stretch were a bit older. A few did help them search for fish and crabs a couple of times, but they were in a gaggle of cousins and had beach friends built into their stay. LittleBrother did take a picture of a little girl he thought was cute (and she was), but she was too busy to notice as he stood and watched her walk away.
These are the random people who make it into our family vacation photo albums. I don’t know if they’ll remember the friends they made this year as much as I remember that first little boy I picked up on the beach. But I’m sure they’ll make more beach friends next year. And I hope to as well.