It isn’t all Barbados, bikinis and body shots

I really didn’t even feel weird about having no plans for Spring Break. It’s never ranked high on my list of holidays. When I go to the beach, I prefer the sound of surf to a noisy house band in a joint with sticky floors. I wear one-pieces. I take library books.

On our last day of class before the break, my professor asked what our plans were. The majority of undergrads had been starving for weeks to be ready for the swimsuit demands of the cruises and tropical destinations ahead of them. Besides me, my professor and that one guy, every one of them was leaving South Carolina for some place that sounded like a song by Sammy Hagar.

My final undergraduate Spring Break suddenly seemed like an opportunity squandered.  In my imagination, I could feel the warm sand on my bare feet, smell the salt in the air, taste the daiquiris. That night, I filled divided melamine trays with macaroni-and-cheese and fish sticks for the kids while I imagined buckets piled high with steamed oysters and crab legs.

The life of a mother in college is not often glamorous. If I have money, I spend it on dance lessons. If I have time, I sleep more. I don’t mind doing things differently than other people or that my predominant efforts to socialize have lately been spent binge-watching Lost with my husband and a box of wine.

It’s a good life and it’s mine.

The ocean is a wonderful and powerful thing, though, and that is why I decided to take the kids to Folly Beach before the coffee was cold in my cup on my first day of break. It couldn’t have been simpler, I thought. We all had the day out of school. The portable DVD players were charged. It was such a perfect day to be outside.

The packing and peeing demands of a toddler are absurd. The amount of times you have to turn off the car and run back into the house defy reason. Kids bicker. One might pull off his shoe and yell at you when you won’t stop the car to put it back on. You can not possibly bring enough changes of clothes.

A milkshake from Burger King is nothing at all like a keg stand in Cozumel but it may still lead to someone barfing on the upholstery before the sun sets on Spring Break.

How does the sound and smell of the ocean just wipe it all clean and make every minute of the crazy car trip worth it?


It is nature at its most extraordinary.

It is rejuvenation, a centering force, and all you have to do to harness it is to lay back and relax.


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