Sand surrounds me throughout most of the year. It blankets my car. It whips across my face daily. Sand even finds its way into my apartment, despite my windows remaining closed. This is part of living in the Middle East; one I’d rather live without. Then why was it, that on a trip to the New Jersey shore in early July, did I find myself so unequivocally enthralled with none other than sand itself.
On a family trip shortly after my wedding, we planned the second day of our Cape May vacation as a beach day. Growing up, I didn’t actually like the beach, or at least, I didn’t like the after effects of the beach. I suffered a slew of maladies. A sun crisped body because I didn’t like the feel of sunscreen, salty unkempt hair, and sand in places I didn’t ever want sand, were a few reasons why a “beach day” was up there with torturous dentist appointments.
I didn’t expect things to be very different that day, so for the reasons mentioned above, I spent the entire sunny afternoon stationed under an umbrella. The sun was setting as we left and my hair was silky smooth, my crevices were sand-free, and my skin was as pasty white as ever… Beach Day #1 was a success!
On Beach Day #2, I thought I would replicate my previous day’s achievements, but when I sat down under the umbrella, I spotted something that changed my mindset. There on the coast, where the waves gently rolled across the wet sand, were two kids building a sand castle. Memories rolled over my mind and crashed against the piers of my consciousness. Memories of two tons of sand piled on top of me, leaving all but my head to be taunted and teased by the seagulls. Memories of my sister and I building massive sand castles and watch them fade away, grain by grain, with the rising tide.
I sprang into action.
With a small green shovel in hand, I got to work on something magical. I didn’t know what that magic would look like but I had a notion. Along with my sister, who is now 30 years of age, we created a barrier that would hold back the ocean’s force. Bucket after bucket of sand was loaded onto the curved mounds that protected the castle and village of Dylmolvania. The waves crashed against the wall and were repelled back to their watery depths. We knew we had done well. Hours went by in minutes, and before we knew it, the time had come to leave our creation to its fate.
The castle was gone the next day. Some monstrous giant had traipsed through our work leaving naught but destruction. But we weren’t discouraged. We were inspired. This allowed us to build bigger, farther, higher. Beach Day #3 was spent much the same as Beach Day #2, creating sand castles. Well, almost. Day #3’s goal was to create a roman bath. We would create leveled irrigation channels that would allow the incoming tidal waves to run through our city, while not destroying it, and then fill our “bath” so the townspeople could stay clean.
We had no townspeople. And in reality, we had no city. What we had was a whole lot of sand and a whole lot of water. Eventually, the sun began to set and the waters overwhelmed the canals, but I was not there to witness this. When I left, there was a small child, and his mother, splashing in the bath we had dug. What had begun as sand on a shore had evolved into a playplace for young and old alike.
My hair was a mess, my neck was sunburnt, and there was sand everywhere, but I didn’t care in the slightest. A castle had been built that day and a castle had been enjoyed. And despite the fact that sand castles are some of the flimsiest housing on the market, on Beach Day #2 and #3, that’s exactly where I found my rest.