You threw a T-shirt on over your bathing suit and stepped into your cut-offs, grabbed a beach-towel and some shades and off you went for your day at the beach. It didn’t matter how you got there, in your friend’s old car or on three buses; sooner or later there you all were in the great republic of the nearly-bare, all of you stretched out like hot dogs rotating slowly.
I went to the beach for the first time in 8th grade with my first-ever boyfriend. His parents, too smart to still be sunbathing themselves, dropped us off and sought other, indoor, amusements. I had on my new two piece bathing suit, white with the navy piping and kept my hands over my bare stomach the whole time except when I lay flat beside this alien being, this human boy. Maybe we all felt shy like this once.
Ten years down the line I would go as often as I could to this one Boston beach called Nahant, a beautiful mile-and a half long spit of land within view of the steeples of Boston. By then it was either bikinis or those super-short swim trunks depending on gender and it didn’t matter that our tummies showed. We were young, our skin was perfect and we knew we would live forever.
I drove back there near the end of this past work-week: through tiny crowded Chelsea and Revere with its three-deckers, a couple of which you see here…
All the way to Lynn, Lynn, the City of Sin You Never Come Out the Way You Went In as the old piece of doggerel goes but really a fine old town, once a great manufacturing hub and proud of it. You went right at the rotary in Lynn and there it was.
I hadn’t been to this beach in decades, I realized, driving along it on that bright windy day at 4pm. Parking for the day still costs $3; that was one miracle. Another was that the kid manning the gate waved me in for free.
There was one surfer sprinting oceanward and a mom and three children, and all this beauty.
These days my summer travels take me north and keep me inland but I can feel a pull on me now from the dark salt magnet of the tides. I think it’s time to get back to the beach.