Once, when I was little, I went to the beach with my mom’s best friend. We called her Aunt Lil. She preferred Auntie, but that’s another story. She took me to Euclid Beach for a picnic and a swim. An amusement park was part of the grounds, but much to my disappointment, we were not going there this time. I remember a piggy-back ride across the sand, hot-dogs with mustard from the concession stand, and not wanting to go into the lake past my knees.
I also remember crying a lot. Was it because we didn’t go on the rides? Maybe because I didn’t want to swim? Maybe because the piggy-back ride was scary? I think all of it. So it wasn’t that much fun. We only did that trip once. I think I cried all the way home, too.
When I was eight or nine, I was allowed to ride my bike to the neighborhood pool by myself. I took swimming lessons for a couple of summers. I learned to not be afraid of the water. I could float on my back and kinda move in the water by kicking my legs and thrashing my arms around.
Then marriage, kids, weddings, grandkids...and my husband wanted a boat. Still living close to Lake Erie, we kept her in Ashtabula. I loved the boat. We sailed on weekends and took mini-vacations to Canada, only 60 miles away. I felt safe on the boat. I knew my husband could (make that would) save me if I went overboard. I wasn’t so sure about being able to save him, though. So I read the step-by-step instructions on our throw-over life preserver until I knew those directions by heart.
Euclid Beach has been closed for almost 50 years. All my swimming lessons have faded into wherever things go that we forget. The boat (and its never-used life preserver) has a new owner on Lake Michigan.
But water...This week finds me evening after evening watching the sun set into the Gulf of Mexico. I can watch the waves ripple onto the beach as long as I want to, and not go into the water above my knees. I can sit at the side of the pool with a rum punch and a novel. I can kick back or kick it up a notch.
I’m on vacation and life is good. I bet my bluebells will still be blooming when I get home. _stay curious!