It’s not as if we were going to Antarctica.
My sister was vacating her compact seashore condominium unit for three end-of-summer days, and had invited us to occupy it in her absence. We’d be her “condo-sitters” and enjoy all the perks, including that most cherished one: an indoor parking space.
So there we were on a recent morning, getting ready to dash off down the Shore.
In the early days of our marriage, when it was just the two of us, we’d be out of the house in about 15 minutes with an overnight bag and suntan lotion (sunscreen was not yet on the market) to work on that tan.
This time, there were lists. Four-page lists.
And this time, instead of jumping into a VW Beetle convertible of questionable lineage and uncertain stamina, we were surveying the trunk of our sedate sedan wondering how in the world it would hold what we were taking for this little runaway romp by the sea.
There was some puzzlement, I admit, about how two people who once packed their worldly goods for a full weekend at the Shore into one small knapsack now required four pieces of luggage and several tote bags.
Back in the days when those runaway weekends were mostly spent in seedy bayside rooming houses, my husband would throw a pair of bathing trunks and a tennis racket into the same overnight bag into which I’d stuffed shorts and a bikini. Trust me, my bikini days are over, and so are the days when packing required no lists. …
This time, packing took the better part of a day, and ah, the inventory:
The heating pad for a possible siege with Vic's tricky lower back.
My vitamins. Ointments. Antacids. Sunscreen. Our own pillows. Low-fat pretzels. And always a fan, just in case Ruthie’s place wasn’t as cool as she’d sworn it would be.
And a demure one-piece bathing suit and beach cover-up were carefully folded into the larger of my two suitcases.
Instead of a dawn departure, we were still debating at noon the wisdom of taking along our own sheets just in case my sister’s were scratchy.
We had just about gotten on the road when I remembered that I’d left my spare pair of glasses on the kitchen counter. One can’t be too careful, we reasoned, so we turned back to retrieve them — and to grab my curling iron which, alas, hadn’t been checked off on page three of the master list.
That return trip home also gave me a chance to check on whether we’d unplugged the toaster oven (we had) and to scoop up another stack of books (we had packed seven for the two nights) just in case we hated all the ones we’d already chosen.
My husband wasn’t pleased that this meant still another reshuffling of the jammed car space. I wasn’t pleased by the tone of his voice.
So instead of singing along to the tunes on the radio, as we used to do on trips to the Shore when we were both younger than springtime and songs had words, we sat in stony silence listening to classical music (his choice) until I demanded equal time for the Peter, Paul & Mary tape that goes whither I goest.
We also had a wee bit of trouble deciding exactly where to set the car air-conditioning now that the temperature in the “cabin,” as my husband calls the car’s interior, was making my teeth chatter.
And so it went on our recent odyssey to the Shore, where we were lucky enough to encounter two-and-a-half days of steady rain and a screaming infant in the condo next door.
We did attempt one walk by the ocean, but it was short-circuited when my husband got that familiar twinge in his lower back that portends a major lower-back crisis, and I stepped on a broken shell and bled lavishly into my new beach sandals.
On the ride home from our fabulous seashore getaway, two former beachcombers agreed that time was indeed marching on, and that some things just can’t be replicated.
The abandon of youth was, alas, high on that list.