Our family took a glorious summer trip to one of my favorite places in the world: a stretch of golden sand along the sparkling blue waters of Lake Michigan. It was a journey across five states, and more miles than that down memory lane: I was taking my kids to a place that had been one of my favorite haunts as a young man, where over many years I spent many happy days in the sand and surf.
And the trip was wonderful!
Around every corner were sights and sounds that took me back to days of driving the summer coast with my sunroof open, my mix-tape CD of summer songs playing, and the waves calling.
Much had changed in the years since I’d last been there.
First among them being my ride. I used to tool-around in a fun little car I called “The Sports Wagon,” because it’s cargo consisted mostly of basketballs and rollerblades (hey, don’t judge me; those were a thing back in the day, and truth be known I still love them!) and sundry other fun equipage perfect for sunny summer afternoons. I doubt a grocery bag ever sullied the leather seats of The Sports Wagon — those were the days before I’d learned even to crack an egg, when I got my groceries pre-cooked from drive-thru windows.
But on the trek this summer I was captain of a minivan where the soundtrack was provided by my young charges asking every ten seconds “Are we there yet?”
And the cargo in the back was a collection of partially inflated floaties and little plastic buckets and shovels. But those are pretty good for whiling away a summer afternoon, too.
One very nice feature of our travels was the total dearth of diapers to be found anywhere or on anybody in the whole minivan.
This was a huge boon. The last time I made the pilgrimage to The Beach (as in The Archetypal Exemplar of All Beachiness for All Times, as that particular strand of God’s wonderful creation will always be in my mind) it was with three kids all still in diapers. Now I had four kids in tow and nary a one swaddled in anything more absorbent than a swimsuit.
If that isn’t what they mean by those “Life is Good” shirts then it should be.
Because it made the trip easy, peasy, and super fun. I could actually swim with the kids, and I did! And it was great!
And though many things had changed at The Beach (alas, my dearly beloved old beach shacks are no more, replaced now by newer, shinier structures belonging a different architectural era), the essentials were the same: warm sand, cool water, waves washing on the shore, wind blowing in off the immense deep reaching across the horizon as far as the eye can see, dunes to climb and then run down as fast as you can, a beach towel to stretch out on and dream away a golden afternoon.
And I got to share it all with my kids. It was my parents who first introduced The Beach to me, even more years ago than sunroofs and mixtapes, and now the glories of The Beach passed to a new generation. Of all the memories I re-lived on our family’s summer journey, the new ones made in that passing on may prove to be the most treasured of all.
Life is good, and sometimes a little summer vacation helps remind us of its sweetness!
Copyright 2019 Jake Frost