Somewhere along the way, I stopped lying to myself about the beach.
How on Earth do you tell someone you don’t like the beach?
I never go in the water; it’s cold and unknown depths freak me out to no end. Because of this, I never fulfilled the whole experience, but still always claimed to love the beach.
I just like the feel of sand under my toes when I throw a frisbee around. Fuck the water.
Believe it or not, my mom is full-blooded Cherokee; just ask the Englishman that married her.
He was a Raiders fan and drove a Ford truck. Raiders fans drive Chevys.
I remember when we were leaving the beach, back when I was 6 or 7ish, the big one-ton truck had a tire removed and “Fake Fan” sprayed across the side, the Fathead sticker scraped off leaving behind a bit of facemask and the ironic letters “aid,” – by some twist of fate we would receive none – and in big block letters “FAG” across the windshield.
That was before I understood that word or grew to take offense to it. Though I had been made fun of for seeming different in elementary school, nobody really learned that word until middle school; I learned to protect myself against it.
I started taking Kickboxing classes at 8 and the first time somebody called me that name I beat her ass from one end of the playground to the other. Took about 4 “security guards” (they’re yard duties, don’t let them fool you) to pull me off of her.
My mom was pissed. My dad was proud of me for sticking up for myself, and when the time came, I told him how I felt long before my mother.
She probably could’ve guessed but her fathers would tell her to wait for me to come to her on my own terms. Denial is a slippery slope.
Much later in life, I visited Dad to see how he was holding up. Mom was gone now and the funeral wasn’t far off. I brought home my boyfriend and laughed hysterically when they got in a fight over the old Ford sitting in the driveway, a new Raiders sticker on the tailgate. He started placing a new one on top of the old one every couple of years so that now it’s raised enough that there’s a noticeable edge.
About five years later Dan and I went to cremate Dad. We had married a year prior to that, Dad was the best man and had seemed the same old geezer I had grown to love, no health issues at all it seemed.
He was lonely. Turns out a broken heart is a real thing.
Mom I could handle, but Dad…
Dan unhooked his boat and drove me all the way out to sea where no ports and no piers were visible. When I opened the Urn there was a note at the top. I tossed handfuls of the ash on each end of the boat and then slowly dumped the rest in a circle around the boat as best I could. Dad was only 57 when he passed, and mom even younger…
I opened the note after crying on Dan’s arm for a while, the sea air slapping at our faces.
“Thanks for facing your fears.”