Putting pale to shame

I don’t have too much pride to admit the sun and I have a lot of catching up to do. When a native Floridian who’s inherently and staunchly opposed to artificial tanning moves to New England for the first time, an alarmingly unfamiliar skin tone is bound to occur…it’s called white. The truest, most literal representation of the color, and it’s difficult to overcome for a first timer. If there’s others out there you can be comforted knowing the beach is full of us, plus lifelong pasties. You can step into the light. I know, because I’ve finally, thankfully, been.

Being painfully pale isn’t the only downside to winter adaptation. This Floridian is used to frequent beach trips, and deprivation from the trips themselves and fun in the sun with longtime friends represents a large chunk of my homesick circle graph. Hypothetical, of course. I experienced the same longing when I moved to Nashville for college and Italy for a summer abroad. I’ve found you don’t forget your first reunion with the shore, regardless of the coast. I didn’t make it to a body of water until Spring Break freshman year, and that trip consequently became one of my favorite college memories. In Italy, one of our local friends gave us directions to a little known local spot we could hit on our Pisa trip, which likewise proved one of my favorite days that summer.

Technically Coney Island was the first beach I proactively reached after an overwhelming winter, but its insulting to so many beautiful coastlines to consider that atrocity as such. And it wasn’t an intentional “beach day,” which is really what counts in my book (or blog). As a result, and while I’m in discovery mode this week, my friend Ashley and I journeyed to Long Beach today for our own official summer kick-off. If you’re in school and/or bitter, I understand it’s not your summer yet, but we didn’t get a Spring Break, and our summer still includes full-time work, so give us this little feat.

We deemed this the first of many Ashley Adventures to come and mentally noted future destinations throughout the day. I was pleasantly surprised by the brevity of our train ride, barely an hour on the LIRR. The town reminded me of any Florida beach towns with trademark orange tile roofs and a typical strip of stores and restaurants. The beach itself wasn’t quite as beautiful, but it exceeded my Coney Island-tainted expectations. We chose the warmest day in months–an uncanny 85 degrees–when we both miraculously had the day off, so there were plenty of runners, bikers, and park bench-ers along the boardwalk. The beach itself was sprinkled with an ample crowd for people-watching and we spent hours simply soaking in the sun. It was the kind of day passersby couldn’t resist hiking up their pants and walking the shore fully clothed. Life’s just too short to try and pencil in the sun.

I have to admit the water gave me flashbacks to minor hypothermia setting in at a regatta in Philadelphia, but I stepped foot in the ocean. I haven’t been in the ocean in almost a year, and watching the waves crash and letting the tide rock my feet was worth frozen toes.

There are distinct natural scenes that are so picturesque they evoke unforeseen emotion, when acknowledging the awe of God’s creation is a mere reflex, and beaches indefinitely have this effect on me. I was delighted, exuberant even, to finally achieve some color and rekindle my heated affair with the ultimate star, but nothing compares to the sun’s reflection on the ocean (even at Coney Island). But as I told my friend Zach today, I’m plenty more beach days away from a decent tan. Long Beach and I will have to establish a little relationship of our own, and needless to say I’m willing to put the effort in.


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