When our kids were little, we would come home from work, change into bathing suits, grab two longneck Millers, a slew of juice boxes, and a bag of chips and head down to Lake Michigan for ‘cocktail hour.’
We made sure to go after the lifeguards had left lest we get chased away for our glass beer bottles, so our evenings at the lakefront were very late afternoon, sometimes dusk, and often lasted until we saw the lights come on in the big buildings downtown. We’d swim and float, talk about our day, relax, chill. That’s it, we’d chill. When we’d had enough, we’d pile all of our sandy selves into the car and go home and make dinner. That time and place is precious to me.
Today, the two of us – just my husband and I – changed into our suits and headed to Lake Michigan after an afternoon of frustrating gardening and cleaning the living room carpet. No beer this time since the local sheriff’s department has made quite a project out of patrolling the lakefront; instead I had a bottle of ice water with lime. Very high living.
We walked into the water at the end of the beach where there was sufficient anarchy that dogs were happily playing fetch and people of all stripes and states of clothing were in or about the water. I love a place where people feel appropriate swimming in their clothes or where young kids who might not have proper swimming attire might swim in a pair of shorts with no shirt. “Is that a boy or a girl?” my husband asked. “A girl!” “Well, she didn’t have a shirt on so I wasn’t sure.”
I like being places where it doesn’t matter.
I like being places where little girls will laugh when I yell “Shit!” when I stumbled on rocks hidden in the murky water.
I like being places where the fat lady with a bunch of kids will laugh when my husband does a surprise dive and splash.
I like being places where the tall thin man doesn’t mind that I pick up his dog’s fetch-it toy and toss it back in the water. I like being places where the dog doesn’t bite me.
I like being places that are like little intermissions in the havoc of life, where people who are White and Black and Brown feel like beach buddies, where the temperature of the water is the topic of conversations, where what we all have in common is the chance to love life and have the sun shine on our faces.
I’d be an idiot for thinking that this is a representation of real life. I know it’s not.
But it’s a glimmer.