After the big two-day, tax-free furniture sale last weekend, Diana and I were exhausted. We closed up the store, looked at each other and realized we were thinking the same exact thought: Let's go to the beach!
Sunday night offered perfect weather night for a barbecue on the beach. As the sky darkened and dozens of bright meteors streaked overhead, we blackened some burgers on the grill and roasted marshmallows with our three boys. Just as we were settling in for a night of quiet stargazing, four cars roared up. Out poured twenty college kids.
They cranked up the music, opened a cooler of beer and lit a fire. With skills finely honed by spring break, they managed to construct a party scene in seconds - or so it seemed to me. Suddenly, our peaceful evening with the kids seemed in contrast, well, boring.
"How did we get here?" I asked Diana, looking enviously towards the party. "We used to be over there." I mean, it didn't seem that long ago. We were carefree. We had a dozen friends who could dance in the sand all night without worrying about work on Monday. Now, we have a business, a mortgage, three kids.
Diana glanced at me with an unmistakable expression. It said, wordlessly: "You are such a dumbass."
"They're over there, Jay, trying to figure out how to get over here," she observed, turning to watch our three boys chasing each other across the beach. "And with whom."
I laughed. I knew she was right, but I wanted to yell to them, "Stay over there!" In a few hours, I would be back to work trying to figure out how to arrange 50 plus deliveries from the weekend sale, answering e-mails, registering kids for fall sports and hollering at them to finish their summer reading.
Then, an older couple strolled by both of our campfires, chuckling at the awkward antics of the teenagers, then nodding genially at us. They looked content. Our stage in life is a lot of work, but as the kids ran back to our fire, shivering with beach towels, I know that we will remember these times as the good old days.