and wait until you see the third

There was always a simple understated understanding that we would always be. A belief that I would see bonfires and meet 50 first cousins at the family holiday party even as we sat up late night sharing those important all night discussions where you learn everything about this amazing new person you cannot believe you finally found.

When I told Steve I loved the beach he couldn’t wait to take me to his family’s seaside home. For someone who loves the beach, I hardly got there. I was without a car and living in the city. I was still in college. I knew I felt some amazing connection to the ocean, but I rarely got to experience that first deep breath of salty air that comes with arriving at the beach. When it came time to leave I was always the one who had to go back down to the shore for one more look, one more deep breath. He made arrangements to take me to the house, then located just down the street from the current beach house, for my birthday the year we started dating. In the history of all my birthdays there have been just a handful of sunny days and this was a day like no other. It was hot, sunny, bright and beautiful and my new boyfriend took me to the most sacred place he knew – his beach.

That was April.

He tried to explain the insanity of the third of July to me that night. The bonfires, the fireworks, that the beach would be full of spectators, that there would coolers full at 6pm and empty by midnight, that there was to be epic game of A-Hole that would forever change my game.  I smiled. I nodded. I couldn’t imagine that this pristine, quiet beach would be transformed in such a way for just one night. We had started dating in March. It was April. He was sure I would be there in July. I was sure I would be too and not because of the beach, but because from the moment I walked into the Parrish CafĂ© that night in March and I saw those blue-eyes watch me walk through the door and completely take me in - I knew I had found him. I was there that July. I was still there the following year. I was absolutely there when he proposed in the misty rain, amid the dunes, beyond half-built bonfires.

July 3rd has been exceptionally good to us. It was the first major thing from his life, from his family’s life, that he shared with me and he did it with his whole self. He couldn’t wait to indoctrinate me and teach me he did! I might actually look forward to July 3rd more than he does now.

Each year is different. The view has changed in recent years. The attendees vary year to year. We’re getting older and the card games seem to have settled down a bit. The fireworks keep getting more and more impressive. Our fire is STILL the first one lit on the entire beach. The meal never disappoints. These days I experience the fireworks through my daughter’s eyes and I chuckle watching my infant son jump at the booms. I wonder how many we will have together there on that deck overlooking the ocean.

There has been tremendous change in our life since that first April when the third of July was just an event I heard about and had yet to experience. One thing remains the same. I can look over the crowd of onlookers and catch my husband’s eye and he will smile, come over, ask me if I need a beer, tell me that I should have one even if I don’t really want one. We’ll still wake up in the morning together and say it was the best year yet. It always is. 

My daughter loves the beach. Her brother is sure to follow suit. That isn’t from him or from me, but surely from the collective history we have together, there, at the most special beach, where we announce wonderful things, where we return lobster shells to the sea, where we are most connected to tradition and family and to each other.

We’re so lucky to be spending next week there creating new memories, relishing in old traditions, waking up to the sounds of the surf. We’ve got grand plans and plans to do nothing and everything in between.


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