The distance between the front porch – the entrance to the beach house – and the house’s foyer, is just inches. But the actual distance spans years. And days. And minutes.
Beach memories of family, and friends like family, of generations, of shared childcare, of shared meals, shared grandparents and grandchildren, are unique only in their existence on the sea side of the beach house entrance. There, extended family lives together. Cousins become siblings. Friends become family. All up and down the beach, clad in bathing suits by day and sweatshirts by night, extended families mingle, familiar and close.
But at the end of the week, away from the sand covered sofas, the solo cups decorated with obscene teenage references, the leveling of beach attire and bare feet, blurred drinking ages, shared great rooms, common laundry, nightly games and family meals together, the magic goes into hiding, for another year for some – for the fortunate – forever for others, overshadowed by commitment, work, school, sports, and the accoutrements of life.
My brother-in-law places his flip flops outside the front door before crossing the threshold over to the sea side . He doesn’t wear them again until we are leaving for home, a physical reminder of the shedding and resurfacing of the outside world, life away from the sea. And at week’s end – regardless of the fact that we will meet again shortly for lunch – after loading our cars and tidying up the house, we all hug and kiss and say our goodbyes, perhaps not so much to each other as to the the life sea side, to beach memories and the beach’s magic.