Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mostly like cousins

My family's been vacationing in Florida for most of my life. Here we are in the eighties. Awww.

It's been a long time since we came to the beach alone. This marks the twentieth year we've been coming to Florida with two other families -- I've only missed one summer in all that time. There's a girl my age in each family. One has a younger brother born a day apart from my sister, in the same hospital. The other has a sister only two years younger. The six of us grew up sharing each other's parental quirks and sibling rivalries. As 4th grader Sejla would say, we're "mostly like cousins, but not cousins."

We know this beach routine so well, we can predict who'll be first to the beach, who will be last to dinner, who will get cranky mid-week, and who'll have the most trouble leaving. There'll be new adventures too -- this year, there's competitive parking, playing Wii Fitness for hours in a monsoon, and of course, the frogs.

We've been visiting our favorite restaurants-- since we add more each year, it's starting to feel like a foodie tour of Walton County down here -- Red Bar, Bud and Alley's, Basmati's, and new this year, Fish out of Water.

Thursday, though, we'll be staying in. Thursday we do our annual New Orleans-style shrimp boil. We'll all crowd into one condo. The "kids" will sit outside, and the only (but not for long) kid of a "kid," June's son, will play with the sliding glass door between groups and fall asleep on a pallet on the floor.

Today, I watched him build a sandcastle on the beach, and it hit me how quickly a week goes by here. At the same time, all the years blend together, so it feels like we've picked up where we left off, been here forever. Run it all together, and our families have spent five months here -- five months of time jumps. I've watched June's son grow in spurts over the last three years. The collapsing effect makes it seems fast, but when I think about where I was three years ago, how much ground I've covered since then, it really is epic.

Florida's a hall of mirrors for me. It makes me confront all my former selves. And I do it in the presence of not one but three families. Confronting history, confronting family . . . both good (even though both sometimes feel like having your brains scooped out with a dessert spoon and served to you on a plate with Basmati's ginger ice cream).

That's not a complaint. The good part's really good, and the ginger ice cream is spectacular.

Mmm. Brains . . . brains from your past . . . from your future . . .

Yesterday I wrote 832, new, and had fun with it. None for Wednesday. Spent some quality time with my sis and what may have been our last non-rainy day at the beach.

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