My arms are weak from the weight of the fun-filled bags. The straps from the discount beach bag digs into my arms while I try to balance the cooler full of juice boxes, water bottles and beer. My cute beach cover-up rides up my behind as my straw hat threatens to fly off my head. I pull the boogie boards behind me as I reach the top of dune hopping the umbrella doesn’t cause me to take flight down the beach.
“Ruby!” Claire calls out to me. I turn back toward the house only to find both of our families doubled-over laughing at me as I can only imagine how ridiculous I look. Claire snaps a picture, I assume with Snapchat. James appears to be recording and Laynie shakes her head. Austin runs my way with goggles on and there isn’t a dad in sight.
I shrug my shoulders only to give the umbrella enough wiggle room to open-up and throw me backwards down the dune tumbling with all my fun-baggage. I land on my back then greeted by my friend and her three-year-old who continues to feed from her breast.
“Holy crap, are you okay, Ruby?” Claire fawns over me.
“Fine. I’m fine.” I manage to moan out while I gather myself. “So much fun packed in these bags it took me for a ride.”
“Oh honey, it made for a great Snap!” Claire holds out her hand.
I roll my eyes. “I’m sure it did.” It is lunch time and we set up shop on the beach for that day. We started our morning here for the sunrise, however the sun decided to stay hidden. It remained behind the clouds while we waited somewhat patiently with seven children. However, their patience wore thin quickly and with promise of doughnuts, we watched the sun warm the sky to shades of pink and orange then we left.
Nine of us pile in the mini-van and Claire turns on GPS. “Head North on I-12 toward Duck Doughnuts” the sweet British woman in the speaker directs.
I look at Claire.
Claire looks at me. I shrug my shoulders. “Left or right, Claire?” Claire looks confused as she shrugs her shoulders at me.
“Hell if I know.” Not a soul on the road, and here we sit with no sense of direction.
The Brit yells at us “Head north!” I turn right out of sheer habit and I can hear the disdain in her accent, “Re-calculating.” All the kids grown. Austin predictably lets “shh” slip out until Andi corrects him. I bust a U-turn and “head north” as I was originally instructed to do and we arrive to Duck Doughnuts at exactly 6:00am only to find no lights on.
“Seriously, Mom, I thought you said they would be open! I need a latte!” Andi pipes from right behind me. “I’m hungry, Mommy.” Samson sweetly pledges from the back row. I squint to see the hours of operation. Open at 7:00am. Shit. Plan B. Distract and Deflect. “Who wants McDonalds?”
I had planned a jam-packed day. We were taking a ferry to another island. We had wild horses to see. And to top off the day Marcus made reservations at the best seafood place on the island. He had not stopped going on and on about how amazing this place was. This was the first vacation experience either of our families had with another family. Claire and I had been on trips together but never with our families in tow. We are taking our friendship to a new level and it involves co-parenting.
“I have never been more underwhelmed.” Claire’s husband, Marcus reports with a smirk on his face.
“There were horses as promised.” Corey pipes up in my defense. If there was a way to speak an eye-roll, I would do it.
“I didn’t make any promises. I just said there would be horses and horses there were.”
“The boat ride was nice.” Claire pipes in with Samson on her hip.
“It’s a ferry, Claire.” I spit out of frustration. We all sit down to dinner at Casey’s Crab Shack, voted best local seafood on the island.
Marcus makes his restaurant research well-known, since we are eating as his pick. “I’ve heard the blue crab is the best around. Let’s get four pounds for the adults and four local beers.” Marcus looks my way and gives me a wink and the cheesiest smile, “this is gonna be the highlight of the day.” Involuntary eye-roll.
We let the kids order at will with no direction. It has been an eventful day on the sea. We met corralled mini-ponies when we were promised wild horses by the brochure. It was a huge let down after we took the ferry across the inlet to see the famous wild horses on the beach. I wanted this trip to be epic and as a recovering people-pleaser, I struggle with not taking on other people’s experiences.
We drink our beers and begin to laugh at the how the day unfolded. I was able to accept the laughter and let go of the criticism. Even without our storybook-fantasy moment with the horses on the beach, we made memories today. We laughed today and I loosened up and became comfortable with things not going as planned. “Underwhelmed” was our new catchword and it was funny. With all of my planning and preparing, I didn’t schedule in random events that would make for the best memories. “Blue crab up!” The waitress sits two platters full of crab on the table.
“Dig in, y’all! I’m first!” Marcus grabs the crab claw and the first crab. After he examines the smaller than what we expected crab, he shrugs his shoulders and begins to crack it open. Claire, Corey and myself follow suit.
When the four of us are on our third crab, Austin pops up to the adult table. “Yuck, Mommy! That looks like poop?” I look at Austin and then to my plate, where I found what must have been the intestine of the late crab I had just cracked into. When Austin pointed it out, it was plain as day though I had already eaten two previous crab and apparently their inner goods along with it. I throw the crab cracker down and pull the napkin to my face to hide my complete disgust and to keep whatever had already gone down, down.
Claire, Marcus and Corey do the same. The four of us look at each other and Claire swings her head toward Marcus “How underwhelming is having crab shit for dinner, Marcus?” The four of us laugh out loud and the kids follow our lead. This memory will be enjoyed for years to come. Priceless moments like this! The lesson of the day-crab shit is worse than mini-ponies!