I can’t read on the beach. In fact I’m not sure how anyone can. It’s not the kids (there were few and well behaved), or the heat (I am from Atlanta so Gulf Shores humidity isn’t intimidating) or even the constant drone of the ocean (I’ll get to that drone in a moment.)
The beach may be the most surreal place on Earth. Everything you look at is amazingly beautiful from the sand, to the water to the skyline and yet it is all a bit cloying. So much so that we have to mute all we see with sunglasses least we go blind.
The water is lethal made up of ridiculous salinity, algae, and nigh invisible jellyfish that sting like fire ants, but none of that keeps people out of the water. The sand is too hot to walk on and the sand crabs are too territorial to risk with out sandals but still adults compete in sand castle contest as if they were five year olds and the five year olds bury each other up to their necks in what used to be the crabs home.
It would seem that the beach is the perfect place to read a book as the temperate water and inviting white sand only hold appeal for a little while and after time send everyone running for the relative safety of higher ground and an umbrella. Yet I just couldn’t read. Feeling as out of place as I did, and in such a foreign environment, I felt being there was more than enough to make me happy and a greater escape than any fiction I could have brought along.
That said I did discover the purpose for buying books in ‘terrible’ condition off ebay. Take them to the beach. If all you pay is ten cents and shipping who cares how much sand, salt, and water get into it?
The drone of the ocean is near deafening. I don’t know how people say they can tune it out. There are few comparable omnipresent sounds I can think of. It is most commonly described as ‘hypnotic’ and I think that is a good descriptor. As such, I couldn’t focus on much else let alone take part in a novel.
I had noticed myself falling into a pattern these past few days: when the jellyfish finally defeated me and the sand had burnt the previous day’s blisters I retired to my chair and umbrella with the intentions of reading. I read the first three pages of the same book four days in a row but never got any further.
Since I wasn’t able to read on the beach I was forced to take in the environmental oddities that some people call everyday life with out a book to distract me; made to consume fruity flavored rum drinks and nap in the shade.
Pity me...It was terrible.