Their door remained open the rest of the visit, making me feel uncomfortable. I have been countrified. Perhaps I have always been countrified.
"Mildly anxious", "depressed", and "suspicious" describe my state of mind when Jared and I lived in Philadelphia and later, Queens. Sure, biking to work across the Schuykill River via the Market Street Bridge was exhilarating. Eating delicious cheap Middle Eastern food at Saad's in West Philly was a treat. So were the Ethiopian restaurants. Then, there were squatter punks and arty ironic mustache guys and girls. We never really fit in.
I can't really say too much that's nice about Queens or NYC. Shortly before we left, a dust storm swirled outside our apartment window. Grit began to cover our furniture and floor. As I attempted to close a window, some flew into my eye. I rinsed my eye numerous times, but could not alleviate the irritating feeling. Upon examination, I discovered a sliver of glass embedded into my pupil. I rinsed again and again. Finally, Jared removed it with a cotton swab. I probably have written about this event multiple times on this blog, but what are the odds of hating a place so much and also getting a sliver of glass stuck in one's eye while living in that god forsaken place?
If forced to choose to live in one, I go with depressing Philly over brutal NYC. Horror of horrors.
Back to the Jersey shore and my brother - after a tour of the apartment, we drove to the beach. I think they locked the door when we left. Anyway, we stopped for ice cream at Thomas Sweet's. Beren sampled everyone's selection, including Grandpa's pretzel cone. I sampled it, too. Salty sweet goodness.
At the beach, the sky was grey and the wind whipped. My brother and his girlfriend, recent refugees from Florida, left shortly and returned to their apartment (door locked?) to cook dinner for us.
My parents and Jared combed the beach. Superstitious, I touched the water. I can't go to the beach without touching the water.
Beren walked to the water's edge, which of course is constantly changing. We began to play a game. He ran towards the water. My heart palpitated. I grabbed him and ran backwards, shouting "Watch out for the water." Again and again. The line between fun and fear was changing as quickly as the position of the water. My feet, shod only in lightweight Pumas, sunk into the soft sand.
On a nearby jetty, a couple walked. One of them carried a baby in a foward-facing carrier. I watched them, remembering the Baby Bjorn days. I wondered if they watched us and imagined days to come. Possibly they thought, "That Mom is crazy."
They'd be right. I felt a little crazy.
The water came towards us quickly, more quickly than I expected. I ran backwards, gripping Beren by the waist as I had dozens of times before. This time, I stumbled. I landed on my forehead and right knee. Beren was laughing, protected beneath the arch of my body. Water swirled near. I shuffled back, my forehead still holding us up. We were dry and unhurt. Unfazed. Crazy mom.