Gwen and I don't really consider ourselves beach people, but we feel a vague parental duty to give our girls the chance to roll around in sand and salt water at least once each summer. So we were very glad to have the opportunity to fill our 2007 quota by taking up friends on an invitation to spend a couple of days at their beach house in Avalon, NJ.
Madison and Ava absolutely loved it, which of course was the point. I suffered a modest setback in my own enjoyment shortly after we arrived. On my first trip into the ocean, and carrying Ava in one arm, a wave crashed down on our heads and - before I really knew what was happening - pulled my glasses off of my face and carried them out with the tide. "The sea was angry that day, my friends. Like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli."
I had no back-up with me, hours from home in a seasonal town at 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, but through the blur I dialed my optician in New York to at least try to get a replacement pair ordered. This long-time vendor said it would take a few days to turn around "my" glasses - a minimalist rimless model I've been wearing for the last few years and really love. I credit Brian Roberts of Comcast with the original inspiration.
But, she said, she thought she could get a cheapo substitute in my prescription out to me that night via FedEx for early Saturday delivery. This was her idea, I hadn't even gotten that far, and it really crystallized for me the benefits of dealing with a smaller, reputable shop focused on personal service and quality care. How far do you think I would have gotten with LensCrafters?
I got a call about an hour later with a FedEx tracking number so I could stay on top of the delivery. All of this was done on faith - no credit cards were exchanged, no payment immediately rendered, just timely and inspired assistance with the unspoken understanding that we would settle up in the coming days. Tremendous.
Since everything was blurry anyway, and there were plenty of adults around to attend to the kids, I started drinking. I got through the night and the following morning, and happily found my sense of sight waiting for me shortly before noon, in a little white package left by the door.
Weekend salvaged and back in focus, we continued our sandy fun in between rounds of sunscreen and were on the road headed for home by Sunday morning in a (thankfully successful) effort to beat the traffic. I think we got enough sand to last until we hit Aruba in about six months, for what will probably be the final installment of our annual family trip down there. Madison will be in first grade by then, and that's getting a little old to trade a week in class for a week on the beach, not that she would exactly object.
Here are some photos from the weekend: