Every summer was spent at Old Lyme. We would beg for pocket change to go to Marvin Gardens and buy slush puppies, Bahama Mama flavored of course. After dinner we would walk over to Sound View and ride the Carousel hoping to grab the golden coin. Prizes were won at the arcade and Italian ice bought at Vecchitto’s. Life was easy at the beach.
On special occasions we would travel even farther down the parking lot of I-95 to the Rhode Island beaches. We would race my dad as he body surfed towards the shore. The giant waves were a welcomed change from the calm Sound. A long day at Naragganset or Scarborough ended at Galilee pier with clam cakes and chowder.
Our summers consisted of packing up the van, coolers of Doritos and Capri Sun, barbeques, puzzles, badminton, sandy bathing suits, beachy hair, and bronzed skin.
Summers at the beach defined me and my family. Although the beach has evolved and changed over time, it will always be a beacon of reunion for us all. It is where we grew up, where we held birthday parties, where we learned how to ride bikes. It is where I learned how to play card games, where I had my first kiss, and where I found out about Rudy’s death.
The cool water, soothing waves, and warm sand, all basked in the sun light, serve as an outlet for us all. It offers us time for reflection, where our minds wander to what was and what could be. It is also our escape from the harsh and sometimes cruel reality of our lives. It gives us a place for family and friends to join together and swap old stories and share grand dreams while taking a long walk down the shore. The beach can make for a great day or fix a bad one.
So that is why I always gravitate toward the sea, wherever I am. It is part of me and will forever be.
After an adventurous diving weekend on Koh Tao, we popped back home to Chonburi for two days before we set off to another island. 3 hours south from our charming Thai city rests the small island of Koh Samet. A short ferry ride from Rayong brings you to a long and forested island with white sandy beaches. An eclectic breed of people end up on its shores - travelers, hippies, locals, Russians, Central Europeans, and families all roll out their towels and soak up the sun.
We yearned for a lazy, beach bum weekend so we found lodging at Tot’s Bungalows – little cabanas nestled on a small hill and overlooking Sai Kaew Beach. Tot’s open air restaurant greets the sand and sun chairs. We had everything we needed within 50 feet.
Brittany and I woke up early to watch the sun rise over the water. We sat next to the Phra Aphai Mani and mermaid statues and blissfully waited for the sun to break the horizon. The cool blues and purples stretched into radiant pinks and oranges. A new day had begun. Back into my usual routine, I went for my morning run in hopes of exploring the island a bit before parking myself on the beach. For being a long and narrow island, Koh Samet is extremely hilly and forested. The island has been inhabited for about thirty years and is a National Park. It was just after sunrise so I was the only one on the dirt roads and feeling completely at peace and free.
Over the following two days we migrated back and forth from our room, to the restaurant, and to the beach. We were perfectly lazy and enjoying every minute of it. We dozed in and out of carefree naps as we were lullabied to sleep by the loyal waves.
We traveled to the other side of the Island to Ao Phrao in order to watch the sun set over the water. This is the ritzy side of the island with glamorous resorts and expensive menus. We sat at a restaurant on the sand and enjoyed our happy hour drinks with a backdrop of the Gulf of Thailand. Unfortunately, the infamous Thai haze conquered the setting sun and left us with a glowing ball of light trying so hard to show its full beauty.
Our beach bum weekend eventually came to a close and it was time to make the journey home to Chonburi. I left Koh Samet rested and tanned. I love times where I can practice the beautiful Italian saying ‘il bel far niente’ – the beauty of doing nothing. I had nothing to do and nothing to worry about, I just had to be. Letting my mind wander on long runs, day dreaming while lying in the sun, and sharing personal hopes with a friend on slow walks along the beach gave me ample time to reset my goals for the year and reflect on the life I am living. I sat on the ferry, saddened to leave the sandy beach and beautiful island but feeling so complete and excited for what’s to come– feelings only a beach bum weekend can create.