I remember the first time my parents traveled to Rehoboth Beach. Fresh out of college, I had just started my first real job in New York City so there would be no vacation for me that year.
Mom and Dad’s friends had finally persuaded them to use their Delaware beach house instead of driving the eight hours to Nags Head. The end of a tradition established before I was born upset me even more than the lack of a vacation.
“You have never in your life seen so many good-looking men,” Mom said when she called. “Next year, you have to join us.”
I was uncertain, hoping they’d hate Rehoboth and return to the Outer Banks. We had made so many memories there.
* * *
I remember pulling into a parking space on crowded Rehoboth Avenue one night, searching for my parents in the sea of faces. They hopped into my rental car to direct me to the house for the first time.
The lights and the noise and the people were nothing like Nags Head. I was tired.
Vacation didn’t begin in earnest until the next morning when I peered out my bedroom window at the private pool beneath.
Later Mom and I walked on the beach toward where she had seen all of the men last summer. She cautioned me, though, not to get my hopes up.
“It’s a gay beach. Your father seems to think he’s very popular when we walk by.”
I assured Mom that my hopes remained very much in check.
* * *
I remember the year the air conditioning didn’t work and my parents and their friends bought just two box fans, one each for their bedrooms but none for my friend and me.
* * *
I remember riding around Rehoboth in a big old convertible with a British DJ named Joker driving and my friend Geraldine in the back seat.
* * *
I remember sitting by the pool, alternating between tears and shell shocked silence.
Just a week prior, I had been laid off by the company for which I had toiled for four years. As a young professional that seemed like a really long time, damn it.
So what if the job in e-commerce had been horrid, to the extent that I required prescription antacids. So what if I had been actively interviewing for other jobs. The job broke up with me before I could leave it. I was crushed, embarrassed to face my family–but not too chagrined to consider not going to Rehoboth on my annual free family vacation.
* * *
I remember the summer when Mark, the guy I liked for a long time, surprised me by showing up in Rehoboth after telling me that he couldn’t make it due to work. Mark and I were just friends. Well, aside from kissing sometimes, and holding hands, and me sitting on his lap once in a while.
He had come to know my family quite well and had traveled to the beach with my family and me once before. This time, he had seemingly taken planes, trains and automobiles to get to us.
I was excited to see him until I saw the massive hickeys on his neck.
* * *
I remember the first time he joined me in Rehoboth. He had to work and couldn’t leave when I wanted so my friend Joanne and I drove out from DC ourselves, getting a speeding ticket on Route 50.
I braced myself for disappointment again, but he did in fact show up. It was wonderful.
My mother expected me to share a room with Joanne, not him. My father turned a blind eye.
He liked Rehoboth enough to join us again the following summer.
* * *
I remember the first time I returned to Rehoboth without him. For some reason, I thought it would be good to bring my married friends Victoria and Chad. They watched me fall apart.
* * *
I remember the nights sharing this bed with him. I remember my worries about how he’d get along with my crazy family evaporating. Sometimes he got along better with my mother than I did.
* * *
Today I spent much of the day in the pool, swimming like the kid I used to be. I can still swim underwater end-to-end, and do forward and backward somersaults in the deep end–doubles actually. I come up for air a little dizzy, but I remember how to do it.
I remember all of these things.
Memories, even good ones, are always a little wistful, aren’t they? I loved reading about how this beach town carries so many memories for you. Thanks for sharing.
And thank you for reading
I went to HS in Bethesda. Back in the day I used to drive out to Rehoboth and play beach volleyball during the day, meet people and party/pass out at their beach house. I had my senior week there. One of my first “overnight” trip with a GF was there too. Yeah, I hear ya on the memories. It’s moving how there are all these memories behind those zany tweets.
Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, I bounce around from wacky to heartfelt. Hope you can keep up! 😉
PS if you really want tears, read the post called A Mother and A Daughter.
Oh that, that’s not a hickey. That’s a …misunderstanding. The FWB thing can be tricky because it’s definitively not exclusive, but that’s hardly an excuse for a lack of discretion. Showing up on your family vacation with marks from congress with another woman makes Mark sound like a bit of a heel.
That’s the thing, though: he and I weren’t FWBs. He was, though, indeed a heel.