Friday, March 13, 2009

Beachy Keen, Day 2

We end today much like yesterday, albeit a touch warmer in the absense of such heavy wind. Feet up, laptops glowing, ocean roaring below as we sit perched on our balcony for the last evening.
"I'm taking the bed," I announced last night, shoulders braced for battle. I scampered happily to the bedroom when Friend easily agreed, demanding only the comforter. I returned, arms full of blankets and pillows, and dropped them on the couch before arranging the remainder of the fluffy cushions in a suitable nest on the bed. I slept well and woke a bit later than yesterday, taking two calls relatively early and another as it neared noon.

"Failing at vacation!" Friend announced and I nodded in agreement before grabbing my wallet and camera, phone still to ear, and followed her to the car. We arrived in the nearby city, found parking and began our search for a map. Upon acquiring two - I lost both not an hour later - we hailed a free shuttle and were river-bound.

"Tugboats?" I repeated after Friend offered the word, momentarily distracted from my search for a floppy fabric purse in the market. "Oh," I breathed happily upon seeing the group of four. "I always loved tugboats in books - they try so hard!" Friend nodded and we watched them bob in the water for a few moments before heading back inside. After evaluating three quilted bags - each boasting flowers and greenery in bright colors - I decided on the largest one and handed the nice man behind the counter my credit card.

"Just clip the tags off, please," I offered when he opened a plastic bag. I showed him the wallet I'd been carrying and he smiled before reaching over his wares to complete my transaction. I tucked my wallet neatly in the cream-colored bag and asked Friend if I could carry anything of hers since I now had a suitable item for such tasks. She handed me the car keys while I arranged my camera and lip gloss. So busy was I that I forgot to be polite when she showed me the ring she liked. "The snake freaks me out," I said honestly, smiling sheepishly when the stall owner glanced over. "The rings are very pretty," I called. "But the snake freaks me out," I muttered more softly to Friend, utterly unsurprised when it was one of the two she selected.
The day was nearly perfect - overcast and a bit cool - but the crowd began to thicken, causing us to pause on corners while packs of drunken students stumbled and shouted. We waited in line at a final shop, the air heavy with sweet scents, and bought pralines for gifts while a sample melted on my tongue. Returning to the street with bags in hands, I frowned and realized tension was tightening my shoulders. I get nervous around drunk people - they're unpredictable and uninhibited and I've never coped very well with either state. I found myself shrinking back to avoid touching them, wrinkling my nose at the yeasty fog that seemed to surround them.

"Ready to go?" Friend asked when I bumped into her again and I shrugged. "I'm ready to go," she decided, frowning at the crowds as well and I nodded gratefully before we made our escape. Ascending to Bay from River Street, we took photos of flowers and began moving toward the car again, wandering through the squares and complimenting the trees and moss, bushes and blooms. We walked slowly, pausing often to capture images in cameras and peer into windows, only to roll our eyes at the intense amount of silly green hats and fluffy green boas before drifting onward once again.
The beach seemed even more of a sanctuary when we returned, free of drunken crowds and relentless green. Eager to forget about the messages I'd heard when I checked my cell phone, I put the Very Angry Customer out of my mind and followed Friend to the sand, both of us bundled in sweatshirts while ankles and feet remained bare, and paused to look at shells almost immediately.
"There's a reason you haven't made it all the way to the lighthouse," she deduced and I blinked at her as I stood up, pink shell held between two fingers.

"It's pretty," I explained, tucking it in the pocket of my sweatshirt before walking beside her again. She stooped down equally often, finding interesting bits of bright color or interesting shape. After rolling her eyes at my demands that there be nothing living inside, she would peer around the curves of the shells before handing them to me. After checking her work and admiring the treasure, I'd tuck it in my pocket with the others while seafoam gathered on the sand before being tossed in the wind.
"I keep thinking it's litter," I told her and smiled when she threatened to take a picture if I chased some down.
"It tickles my toes," she offered and I immediately moved so I could feel it too.
We did finally reach the lighthouse and I cooed when she noted the light was on, burning through the cloudy skies and misty rain around us. We continued, reaching a line of large rocks settled into the sand, clear water slipping around their edges and forming tiny pools between boulders.

"It's pretty," I said again, looking out at the waves made angry by the wind, smiling at the birds as they pecked at the sand and glancing at the shells left uncovered by low tide. I tucked my camera in the back pocket of my pants, waiting for Friend to climb back over the rocks (when the sign clearly indicated one should not do that. Danger!) before we turned toward home again and began to walk.

"Tailwind," I noted, grateful for the force at my back that made it easier to move forward. I shivered before realizing I had a hood, tugging it up and immediately feeling more comfortable. After getting more shells and playing again in the foam, I decided I was hungry. The bisque downtown had been unacceptable - a word Very Angry Customer used in our conversation when I called him back - and Friend said we could return to the brilliant cafe we visited yesterday. Visions of rich, golden broth guiding me, I called for reservations and secured a table by the door in 20 minutes. After bisque (a bowl - exquisite) and crab cakes, we had to order key lime pie to go.

After gently discovering that I could take the bed again (yay!), I took one more call while Friend began to clean up inside. As I placed shells in a plastic bag - tiny ones from high tide, bigger ones from low - next to the can of mixed nuts for my parents, I half-listened to my colleague on the phone while eager to return to the balcony to give the ocean more attention.
It's been a nice break, though I did fail miserably at taking real time off. The stress still tugged at me, but there were moments when I could care more about shells and conversations than profits and plans. I'll have a day with my parents when I get home and a little more time to rest before heading back into the battle once again. And for those of you with beach plans in your near futures, I hope you enjoy your time by the water as much as I have.


hypoglycemiagirl said...

How I miss the ocean!

I hope your batteries are charged and you're ready to punch work life back in the face when you return [whatever I mean by that, I'm not really sure myself]

Psych Post Doc said...

I wouldn't say you failed, you certainly relaxed more than you do on a day to day basis. Baby steps. :)

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