No one loves the beach more than I love the beach. You may love the beach equally, but it’s not possible to love him more than I do. If you love the beach this much, there’s a meter that says FULL, and then you went to the store to buy the extended hard drive and already filled that up with your favorite loving the beach classics from the 80s, 90s, and today.
I think I read once or perhaps I just made up that every color of blue is hiding somewhere in the ocean. Infinite blues that come and go with the tides. It’s just a game of hide and seek, and you’re it. Now count to fifty and start looking.
At the beach, I often catch myself staring into endless blue eyes that twinkle so much that a one J. Little Star sued for infringement of intellectual property (Star v. Ocean, 7 F.3d 321 (3d Cir. 1995)). These eyes are so deep; they go on for miles and miles in every direction except behind you. And though it’s difficult, I don’t get lost in his big blue eyes. I find myself there.
I love the beach more than I love milk or chocolate covered pretzels or trail mix or pizza. In fact, if you were to dangle the last bag of trail mix, with peanuts from Jimmy Carter’s family’s peanut plantation, off a cliff and threaten to drop it into the ocean, I would say, “Go ahead. Let him have it.” And after you threw it in there, you dangled Jimmy Carter off the side and said, “Say you love Jimmy Carter more or I’ll throw him off too!” I would politely thank President Carter for his service and tell him I think he is historically underrated and undervalued for his contributions to this great nation, but that 87 sounds like a full life in which I trust he has learned how to swim.
In the winter, when the ocean throws a tantrum because no one wants to play with it anymore and because everyone hates the winter, I still love the beach. When the waves pound the sand like a psychotic girlfriend throwing fists at her lovestruck boyfriend’s chest, I am still head over heels. I tell my friends they don’t understand; he’s not always this cold. They don’t see how the beach treats me when we’re alone together, when it is all sunshine. Like a half-witted goldfish, I forgive the ocean every time, even when it steals half the sand and won’t return the long sleeve t-shirt he borrowed because it was cold.
I love the beach like the biological father who wishes he could spend more time with it. I pine and pine for the beach when I’m away, always thinking about the next weekend I get to see him. Thinking about the great things we’ll do together and how to squeeze it all in.
I tell the beach how handsome he is and how he gets bigger and bigger every time I see him. Which only makes me sadder in the times I’m away from the beach, knowing how much I’m missing. I take pictures with the beach to show that I care too, dammit. To leave emotional and tangible evidence. See? I was here for you too.
I did not get to pick out his outfit for the first day of school, and my name was not his first word, but you can’t tell me I don’t love the beach. I love the beach so much it hurts. And I know I could be a better person and a better dad if I just had more time with him.
You know what else? I also love the beach like the stepdad who doesn’t care if it’s not my son, I’m going to give this kid everything I’ve got. I love the beach when it doesn’t want to be loved. When it wants to push me away and dry my skin. When he throws sand in my eyes and stings of jellyfish, I still love the beach with all my heart.
There’s nothing he can do to make me stop loving him this much, and one day, the beach is going to look back and appreciate how much I care.
I also love the beach like an owner loves his puppy. I toss him frisbees and run with him until we’re both completely exhausted. Then, when things quiet down, the ocean licks at my feet while I read and nuzzles my hand when I forget to pet him for too long.
I also love the beach like a big cousin loves her sandy little cousin who steals the polish off my toes, then giggles as it hangs onto my bare feet, tickling until I squirt him with a hose in the yard.
And yes, I love the beach like only I can. And by the way he kisses my hair until it’s golden and kisses my skin until it glows, I think he loves me back.