Our annual trip to the family beach house (my grandmother’s beach cottage, which she left to my mother and two aunts, and which is rented to strangers–and at a lower, “family rate” to me and the other 9 grandchildren and, now that the next generation is coming of age the approximately 30 great-grandchildren) began inauspiciously. Kid #2 claimed stomach troubles and decided to stay home, dashing my old-ladyish dreams of replicating the two traditional beach photo ops: all three kids in front of the sunken ship at Seacliff State Beach, and the whole family within the jaws of a plastic shark at the Santa Cruz boardwalk. At the airport things were smooth, the security line was shockingly fast and we breezed to our gate, only to find they were waiting for us to board. It seemed all the passengers had boarded already, though the plane wasn’t due to take off for quite a while. The upside was that in their haste to arrive early in San Jose, they didn’t re-sell my daughter’s ticket and Kid#1 didn’t have to sit by a stranger.
Picking up the rental car was also almost eerie in its lack of hassle. No line, the minivan I’d requested was available and the booster seat for Kid#3 was ready to go. The minivan, while now somewhat overkill with one less body to cart around, is a large red 2014 Town and Country with all the options. We named it Clifford.
We had to kill time before the cottage was ready at 4, so we made a trip to the farmer’s market called The Whole Enchilada on Hwy 1. We stocked up on strawberries and other fresh stuff, then hit Safeway in Aptos before finally pulling into the driveway of the house on Seacliff Drive.
Although it’s been updated for guests and most personal artifacts have been removed there are objects that take me back to childhood visits with my brother and grandparents. Gone is my grandpa Ferd’s collection of the great crooners and Gilbert and Sullivan on vinyl. “Frank Sinatra is a good actor but his voice gives me a pain in the you know what,” he’d say. He preferred the more mellow tones of Dean Martin.
On the shelves are my grandmother’s ancient paperback novels: Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer. Somedays I wouldn’t go to the beach at all, just lounge in bed and read cozy mysteries and Regency romances. That’s the kind of kid I was.
In the back yard is a tiny trailer. Ancient. Strangers are not allowed to use it, but rumor has it my cousin with a blended family uses it when he visits with his wife and ten kids. It’s a two-bedroom cottage. I’ve only been in the trailer once, when my grandparents were still alive, and inside I found the topper to my parent’s wedding cake circa 1964. They’ve been divorced since 1980ish.
Everyone should sleep the beach house sleep. Cool and fragrant and both restful but full of fascinating dreams–like screenplays for quirky yet profound indie films.