Screams pierce the air, followed by a rush of water that sounds like a roller coaster thundering down a steep incline. Metal clinks against metal, punctuating conversations about wet feet, odd encounters and the availability of food and towels. I grab a spare towel, roll it up and place it strategically on my reclining chair, then lean back and sigh, reveling in the ocean breeze as I settle back under my beach umbrella.
The screaming children do not belong to me, nor does the chair whose metal frame creaks and clinks together whenever its occupant moves. The people beside us converse, their voices carrying across the sand, their disregard for the fact that those around them have little interest in their allegedly private conversation apparent by the volume of their discussion.
My husband asks my daughter for the third time if she wants to go toss the foam torpedo he has brought along, and my daughter declines, saying she'd rather read her book. I smile at the role reversal, remembering the first years here with her, when I wanted nothing more than to read a book and take a nap, tasks rendered impossible by an active toddler with an equally active sense of curiosity.
The toddler in front of us first inspects the boogie boards belonging to the people on our right, then slips his foot into my daughter's flip flops, then finally, back under his own umbrella, begins to pull plastic bags out of his mother's beach bag in an attempt to both amuse himself and redirect her attention from her cell phone to him. As I watch him, I appreciate how far we have come, how much my own child has grown up in the years we've visited this beach. Those days were fun, but exhausting, and I am grateful that she has reached the stage where we can gather around/under the beach umbrella, our own little community of three, and enjoy our books, the sea breeze and each other's company.
In a few years, she'll be more interested in the boys on the beach than her books, and her disregard for her parents' boring pursuits will once again alter the dynamic. Grateful that those days have not yet arrived, I settle back in my beach chair and absorb the symphony of the beach, grateful for the measures of rest that occupy our little plot of sand.