Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another year in Old Orchard Beach

As usual, it has been a while since I have written.

At long last, my family vacation has begun. I am sitting in Old Orchard Beach as I type. I have been here every year of my life with the exception of 2006 when I was in Ohio. You would think coming here for 23 years would be tiring after a while, but it never really gets tiring. At least it doesn’t get tiring for me. I can imagine it getting tired for some people in particular, but that shouldn’t be a big deal because they aren’t here.

It certainly isn’t tiring for the rest of my family. My grandparents on my mother’s side have been taking my mother and aunt here for years. After the first year they came, my grandfather had said “we’ll stop coming back when the kids get tired of it.” For whatever reason no one got tired (which is ironic as I type this because everyone is asleep around me). But OOB is a longstanding family tradition. We’ve been renting the same house for some time now, we always go see the fireworks at The Pier on Thursday, we have a “mall night” at the Maine Mall (which sometimes happens during the afternoon depending on the weather), at some point the ladies like to have their own day out, and of course there is always the beach itself. My cousins and I usually play frisbee on the beach. My cousins are much more enthusiastic and could play endlessly as I prefer smaller doses. I tend to relax on the beach more then they do. My cousins are men of action on the beach as they are constantly moving, swimming, jumping, whatever it is they want to do. Both aren’t young but are young at heart. They especially love the swimming. I don’t understand how they can because the water is so cold in Maine. It’s like walking into a giant cooler of ice and being dumb enough to not have more clothes on. I will be dumb enough to go in now and then because the waves are good and I’ll surf on my boogie board. I don’t understand the name “boogie board” as the process has little to do with dancing. At any rate, I mostly like to sit back and relax, sometimes with a book in hand. The books are a new development from last summer as my girlfriend had gotten me into the Harry Potter series. You might remember that it was last summer when the infamous final book came out. Unfortunately I was only finishing up the third book at that point and had ways to go to see how everything would end. That summer I brought nearly the whole collection of books and was able to get into the fifth book. Regardless of the fact that it was the Harry Potter series, I found that I enjoyed reading on vacation, as well as having a greater respect for reading in general. It’s still not the strongest respect because I have a nasty habit of getting books and either barely starting them or not starting them at all. But here in OOB I have more enthusiasm to read.

Another thing I like most about this trip is the cliched “long walk on the beach”. I tend to walk either towards the pier or the other end toward Pine Point. My older cousin Robert will usually go with me and my younger cousin Paul will also come once in a while. Robert and I have probably are most interesting talks during these walks. We talk of things that we probably wouldn’t think to talk about. In many cases it is about our girlfriends and how things are.

In a way girls have always been a big part of OOB, which is strange because there really aren’t any here. But I remember days of being much younger and wanting to meet a girl at the beach in Maine. There was something romantic about it, which was strange because I doubt I had a true concept of romance at that time. But both Robert and I had these aspirations of meeting some wonderful girl that we would sweep away for the week...and then what? Would we have long-distance girlfriends in middle school? Would we be those lame kids at school foolish enough to say “I have a girlfriend, but she doesn’t live here. She lives far away. I met her for a week, we barely talk now, but it’s meant to be. Does this make us cool like you now?” Of course the main goal was to meet a girl in the first place and Robert was always more successful at that. Despite being a few years younger, he’s taller, muscular, and has that look that girls seem to like. I think I made a really good foil for him for a while. He was confident in walking shirtless down the beach with his stylish bathing suit while I was in an overgrown beach shirt that complemented my skinny physique. If Robert didn’t look good enough I was there to help. But Robert didn’t really know what to do with these girls because when he finally did talk to them he would get a bit tongue-tied and nervous. I had it in my head that I would be more confident with these girls of wonder, but I have a feeling now that I would have acted in the same way. For the last couple of years it hasn’t mattered because we are both in wonderful relationships. But if we were not it still wouldn’t change the fact that OOB is mainly populated by older French-Canadians.

But the girls were never what made OOB because OOB was always great in itself. With this year, just like any other, I unpacked as soon as I got here so I could get right into the beach. Today the air was cool and crisp from blowing off the water. I took a slow walk from the porch of our beach house to the edge of the ocean. I took a couple of steps into the freezing water, smelled the beach air, and was completely at peace today. Just like every year, I am sure it will be a great week.

In the words of Garrison Keillor, “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.” I might have to steal that.