Ben always takes me to the ocean. I think I mentioned before that I never saw the ocean until Ben and I drove to Virginia Beach and Chincoteague Island in, I believe, July of 1979. I fell in love, and the affair is still going strong all these years later. I am told there are people who don't love - or even like - the beach and the ocean, but I don't really get that.
I don't know if I can describe what I love so much about the ocean, but I will try. In no particular order, I love the smell of it. I love the sound of it. I love how windy it is. I love the feel of it, curling around my ankles or trying to knock me over in the surf. I love walking along the beach and stopping to dig my toes into a whole colony of thousands of tiny coquina clams. I love the idea of swimming in the ocean with all the creatures of the Seven Seas. I love standing at the edge of the continent with nothing but the ocean in front of me all the way to friggin' Africa.
On Saturday, Ben and I went to the beach. We drove to Ocean City, which I was delighted to find was less than three hours from our house. My absolute exhileration began, however, as we crossed the Bay Bridge from Annapolis to the Eastern Shore. I craned my neck to look for huge ocean-going ships in the bay below me, and was delighted to see what looked like a whole flotilla of them to the south of us. I was thrilled to drive by so many familiar landmarks of all our trips to Chincoteague. We drove right over the Kent Narrows, where we used to have to stop if a tall sailboat needed to get past the drawbridge. We stopped and ate in Easton, where it seemed like every restaurant we passed was some place we had eaten before. We crossed the mighty Choptank River. We passed Rockawalkin Road. But just past Salisbury, where we usually swing south on 13 to head for Chincoteague, we stayed on US 50 and headed for Ocean City.
I had never been to the ocean when it wasn't summer. I had never been to the ocean without my bathing suit and sun tan lotion. Needless to say, then, I had never been to the ocean in my leather jacket, hoodie, and jeans. But that's how I went because although it was sunny and bright, it was also windy, and I needed every layer I wore.
This was my first visit to Ocean City, and I loved walking along the boardwalk with all its cheesy old souvenir shops. I love that shit. I feel like an eight year-old again with two quarters in my pocket. Ben and I were not the only ones strolling the boardwalk on a brisk Saturday in March, but it was by no means crowded, either. There were other people there just like us, enjoying an early spring afternoon with the promise of summer ahead of us. And this summer, we'll be here to keep that promise. And we'll be here in the fall and the winter, too. You see if we're not.