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Walking To The Beach

December 10, 2007
We live about a half mile from the beach. Our routine when walking the dog is to take him to the beach, then walk about a quarter of a mile down the beach, then back up, then home. This is probably a two-mile trip. Maybe not, I need one of those push wheel things that measures distance. I am beginning to suspect that what I thought is about two miles is not two miles at all, but, merely a quarter mile tops, because, it no longer hurts my back and legs and we seem to get back faster than before. It could be that thing happening that people who are not dedicated couch potatoes rave about. Perhaps. I do feel guilty when I miss a day.

Oh but how fun it was when we made Della walk that distance with us. If I was ever hard on myself for being a lazy bug, all I need to do to feel better is to compare my physical exertions to hers. And there are times I actually question what she reciprocates in our friendship. Silly me. She does give us some good laughs. Trying to look cute, which we informed her was a no-no, she went out wearing a pair of girly unsupportable sandals. Big mistake. Several times we had to stop and wait while she cried after us to slow down. She complained and moaned that we were walking too fast. When we did make it to the beach she refused, simply refused to make the quarter mile trek down the shoreline. Like a historic lighthouse, she stood planted facing out to the ocean, determined not to move another inch unless it was in the direction of home. Poor woman, she says she wants to come back, that she has been asking all her people for a gifted plane ticket to visit here again.

I have been searching for the word or phrase to describe the feeling I felt the other day when my daughter and I (with the mutt) walked to the beach. The child had a number one accident in her jeans. I told her, told her twice to go to the bathroom before we left. I know her, two things will wake her bladder with a fury, —cold air and too much laughter. Usually the silly jokes do not start until the very last leg of the walk home and she manages to hold it if I promise to withhold the punch line until she regains composure. She normally makes it home without incident.

The cold is another story. Luckily with all the construction next to the beach there is usually a porta potty available for emergencies. But, the key thing to remember in all past incidents is the fact that she knew better and did not go to the bathroom before we left as I strongly advised every single time. So we are on the beach and the cold air hits her. I tell her that we are not going to turn back, that I need to get my one-quarter mile forward and one-quarter mile back before she can find a porta potty on the street. Naturally, I have to remind her (as I was negotiating my redwoods over the newly formed dunes, newly formed because we had massive swells last week and the shoreline has been completely altered) that I told her to go potty before we left, but no, she knew better. As I managed each new dune, she ran ahead and sat on the peak waiting for me because she claimed that this helped her hold it better. We made it to our mark and back, but before we were off the beach she needed to sit down again. This time she got up with wet jeans. What a mess. It was after dark, it is always after dark, or almost dark because dark comes around early five. There was no need for me to give a reprimand or tell her how disappointed I was because her face said it all. I comforted her a little and told her that we had better just make it home as quick as possible and that she would have to deal with it as best as she can. As we were walking I could hear the sound of her wet pants legs rubbing together. I could feel her discomfort. I noticed when a car’s headlights threatened to reveal us she skirted behind me. I started to wonder if she would remember this night when she grows older. I thought about how the events would have unfolded so much differently if it had happened to me with my mother when I was her age. Then I questioned what I was feeling because I could not label it. It was not an “I told you so” moment or a frustrating “why didn’t you listen to me, no one ever listens to me” moment. It was not smugness or indifference either. Nor was it a distorted satisfaction that may come with being right. It was more a combination of a “things just happen” and a no need to defend “it is not my fault” moment, thus creating a feeling as if it was liberating something unknown and sleeping inside of me, but not yet recognisable or understandable, but okay, as in, “all will be okay, –really it will be, okay.”

  1. Rent Party permalink
    December 10, 2007 6:59 am

    I want to walk to the beach!

  2. momo permalink
    December 10, 2007 12:00 pm

    When I was young, I had bladder control issues. I eventually learned to go every time I was in the vicinity of a bathroom, but not before I’d had some similar accidents. My daughter, on the other hand, has an iron bladder, it seems.

    I like the way you describe your feeling at the end. Those moments when you recall what would have happened, and recognize that you don’t have to perpetuate a past dynamic can be so powerful.

  3. Verging Writer permalink
    December 10, 2007 8:30 pm

    My son has the world’s largest bladder – a blessing.

    I think you are right that she might forever remember this incident. It’s the kind of thing that would have plagued me if I were her. But that’s not to say it will be forever traumatic – just a forever remembered memory.

  4. Chris permalink
    December 11, 2007 1:20 am

    Do you remember that Far Side cartoon about “What people say to dogs vs. what dogs hear from people”? The one that the dog heard “blah blah blah Ginger. Ginger blah blah blah Ginger.”

    Well as a land locked surfer, to me this post read “blah blah blah BEACH, blah blah blah WE HAD MASSIVE SWELLS”. 🙂

    I did love walking on the beach, particularly after storms when the beach was virtually deserted. The smell of the salt air filled my nose as the sea breeze tossed my hair about. I can still hear the tumultous shore break. Jeeze, Kitty….you sure know how to make a guy “beachsick” (like homesick).

  5. Rent Party permalink
    December 11, 2007 3:52 am

    I know. Very beachsick. And yes she’ll remember but not in a bad way.
    You write so well…

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