Friday, June 15, 2012

“Maybe in distance but never in heart.” | 2

In April, we went to the beach. It had been on our to-do list since Christmas, when our first planned trip, well, fell through. I was constantly frustrated when our plans fell through. That time he missed my brother’s going away party. Or when he was sick for the night of my birthday party. How he got sick and missed a few days of work, and now we weren’t going to the beach. (If only I realized then how little those things mattered.) But now, now it was happening. We were headed back to one of the places we both loved, a place that had special meaning to us as an “us”. 

Before Trevor, I never appreciated the beach. I feared the ocean, I hated the hot sand. Other than a quick weekend at Virginia Beach with my family, I hadn’t been to the beach since I was too young to remember it. I flip through my scrapbook now and then and feel hints of memory at the sight of myself, in a red and polka dotted “100 dalmations” ruffled swimsuit (and Sean in a yellow full-piece, built in inter-tube, ensemble), burying my father in the sands of Ocean City. It’s always faint but I know that the memories are there. I know that I hate the ocean because once, I was knocked over my waves as my dad donned goggles and dove beneath the water in search of in tact seashells. I know that I kept a jar of shells for years following those trips. But despite those hints of beach memories, I felt uncomfortable and unfamiliar with the idea of visiting the eastern shores.

Then, last summer, when I don’t think I’d even picked up the term “boyfriend”, we both made up excuses to our mutual job of why we couldn’t work for labor day. Clearly, the beach for labor day wasn’t the wisest of choices but the ocean was calling Trevor and I was determined to follow along. (At this point, if you’re my mother, you’re going to be wondering why you don’t remember the trip - I didn’t tell you, you didn’t know who Trevor was, and I wasn’t about to explain that I was going to the beach with him. Now, nearly a year later, we’re happily in love and he obviously did no harm by taking me to the beach, so relax.) We spent four days sleeping with open windows to the sound of the ocean, laying in beach chairs and laughing when I got sunburnt each time, browsing the typical shore stores in Bethany Beach, and discovery “our restaraunt” - Blue Coast. My fondest memory from the trip? Trevor is a born and raised gentleman. (I’m not sure if I should thank his mother or his father or perhaps both but someone taught that boy right.) He spent the weekend opening car doors, paying for my dinner, pulling out chairs.. and I got so angry. Looking back on it, I suppose I simply wasn’t used to that kind of treatment and for some reason, I felt defensive at his chivalrous attempts. We came back from dinner, and I was wearing my favorite summer hat - a straw fedora with black trim - and a dress of some sort, and Trevor took my face in his hands and asked me what was wrong, clearly, I was upset. I told him that he was wrong, that everything was just fine. And he paused for a moment and looked at me and said “I think the problem is that you’re not used to being treated like an adult - like a woman - you’re not used to being treated well.” It’s a moment I’ve thought about time and time again since that September weekend and to this day, it’s a problem that drives itself between us - sometimes I don’t know how to accept the fact that I’m loved, I’m treated well, and I don’t have to do anything to earn it. If you didn’t realize the story was coming to this, I fell in love with the beach that weekend. I learned to love salty air in the morning and the short walk to the beach. We fell in love with fresh seafood at a little place on the water, and I bought too many boxes of taffy. And from that weekend onward, I yearned for our next trip.

And so, in April, it happened. We made it to the beach. Trevor had asked off from work for the weekend. He scrambled in nine sales in four days so that Friday and Saturday, they were ours. Though I had requested a Saturday off, I still worked Friday lunch and that meant a long, anxious wait for our trip. But, during my Thursday night class, I got a text, “let’s leave now.” I texted back that I simply couldn’t, I worked the next day. But, after a bit of maneuvering that was no longer the case. I rushed home, packed my miniature black floral suitcase and left for Trevor’s. After much persuasion through the week, and the close proximity to the Hanover wine and spirits store, Trevor had stopped for a few bottles of our favorite champagne. (I say ours. It was once Trevor’s favorite. Now? It’s ours.) We sat upstairs and had a glass then I sat impatiently and watched another episode of “The Big Bang Theory” before Trevor was finally ready to leave.

One of my favorite relationship quirks? Trevor takes nearly three times as long as I do to get ready. Whether it’s for work, a trip to the beach. We’ve learned that it’s one of our strongest differences but I’m thankful. You see, Trevor has a strong admiration for long hot morning showers and while it means little hot water for me, it also that when Trevor’s early morning alarm goes off - I’ve still got forty minutes to sleep, and better yet - to sleep snuggled in next to Buddy. After that, I’ve got another twenty minutes to spend wrapped in blankets alone, watching the Today Show. Then, eventually, I manage to shower and get ready for my day while Trevor makes his coffee and let’s Buddy out. We give each other a hard time about it - he laughs and asks if I’m going to set my alarm clock for 9:50 when I work at 10. I agree that, just this once, I’ll set it for 9:45 and perhaps have time for makeup - I ask him if he could possibly leave me some hot water that day. Writing it down, it seems silly. But for us, it’s our routine - our morning. It’s funny how sharing it makes my heart ache to wake up together. 

We left for Bethany at nearly midnight. I don’t remember much of the trip, I was asleep before we made it out of York. Trevor loves that I sleep through our drives. I always feel guilty. But it was after three o’clock when we pulled into the tiny beach town that holds a big piece of that boy’s heart. The hotels weren’t yet open for the season. The stores? Closed for the night, of course. We got out in the shopping area and walked for a minute or two. We took deep breaths of cold ocean air that stung when they entered our lungs, we laughed at ourselves for being alone, in Bethany, at three o clock in the morning, in April, because, well, we wanted to be at the beach. Together.

With no hotels in our tiny town of choice, we climbed (I should say, I climbed - Trevor easily stepped) into the signature red Tahoe and headed for Ocean City and straight to Trevor’s hotel of choice, the twelfth street Howard Johnson. Due to a cheerleading competition, no ocean front rooms were available and so once again, we were on the pursuit of somewhere to sleep for the weekend. With the powers of the off-season on our side, we booked a room at the almost-new Marriott and quickly loaded our belongs onto a luggage cart, up the elevator and into our nearly perfect hotel room. We then drug ourselves back down the hallway and through the beautifully tiled stairway, onto the street and finally, into the sand and down a walkway of rocks barely jutting out of the ocean water. It was too dark to see far onto the water. We could make out ship lights and the faint outline of clouds. Behind us, the lights of the boardwalk illuminated the sand and our footprints back to our weekend home. In the chilly four a.m. air, we admired the sounds of a quiet beach and rough water as we shivered, not staying long before the draw of a comfortable hotel bed grew too strong. It pulled us back up the stairs, through the lobby, down the hallway and into our room. We pulled the balcony doors open wide, turned up the heat, and snuggled into bed for the night. Or morning, rather. We fell asleep to the once again familiar ocean sounds and awoke to construction on the boardwalk just outside of our window. In a groggy voice, I asked Trevor about the noise, confused to have woken up in a strange place to bright sunshine and terrible sounds. He slipped out of bed, pulled the balcony doors shut tight and sleep came quickly again.

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