Maybe you like the oldies-but-goodies, maybe you don’t. But one song that I find myself attached to by strong memories of the shore is the legendary song “Hotel California” by the even more legendary Eagles. The song came on Sirius Radio in my friend’s car while we were en route to our shopping trip last week. The temperature was a bit above freezing, there was snow on the ground, I had a handmade, thick-as-concrete scarf yanked around my neck. It was cold, guys. But as soon as I heard those opening notes being strummed, it was like I had been plucked out of the car and plopped onto the burning sand of my second home: the beach. Specifically Long Beach Island, with its quiet atmosphere and kind locals — almost everything as it was fifty years ago.
After I stood up and brushed off my legs, I walked up to the top of the dune and onto my street, dodging tiny pebbles from resident’s “lawns” that somehow always find themselves under my bare heels. I passed my neighbors heading back to the beach from their short lunch break, then I hopped on one of the bikes in the garage of my grandparent’s beach house and peddled my way to the top of the street. Looked left. Looked right. Looked left again, and off I went. I rode to the opposite side of the street, coyly smiled at a sun-kissed boy then power-pedaled away from him because what else are you supposed to do in that situation?
I made my way to the Wawa where the parking lot, as always, was a mess. Carefully maneuvering through the incessant flow of teen-driven cars, I made it to the safe zone- A.K.A. the bike rack. I picked up my sandwich and milkshake from the counter after a few minutes of waiting then mounted my summer vehicle, the bag of food weighing down one handlebar and my other hand holding the drink. Clearly a bicycling pro. Next stop on my daily route: the pier-looking structure a few minutes away from Wawa. I sat there, drink in hand and sandwich in lap, enjoying the sweet sound the waves were making against the stones and watching the dogs play with toys in the water amongst themselves and their owners. Simple joys.
Making my way back to the house, I see more faces — some new, some familiar- but all basking in the beating sun and fresh air that the shore has to offer nearly every day. I climbed off the bike and stored it away for the next trip about the island — which would usually happen a few more times before I went to bed that day. But as quickly as the song began, it ended. I opened the car door, letting in a rush of way-too-cold air, but I just smiled — summer is only five, very short months away.
Until then, beach. Until then…