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My Favorite Memory
The lapping waves on the beach, the warm sun beating down, the salty air, and the laughing of children with their families surrounded me. The warm sun and the cool, soft sun seemed to envelope me in a sweet embrace.
The sudden flooding of water on my midsection interrupted my serene relaxation. Bolting up, I let out a small scream. Two laughing ten-year-old twins fell onto the sand and rolled around.
I stood up and placed my hands on my hips. The laughter slowly died down, and they looked up at me sheepishly.
“I was just going to sleep! Really, guys, you’re ten! Start acting like it!” I exclaimed, drying myself off.
“Most ten-year-olds get their older sisters wet,” Timmy, the more outgoing of my twin younger brothers, said, smirking and snickering.
“Nooo, most five year old do that. Most ten-year-olds respect their old siblings,” I snapped.
“We were kidding, Jay,” Jared said sheepishly. (Jay was short for Jaylene.)
I grabbed my beach bag and let out a loud, exaggerated sigh. “Tell Mom and Dad I’ll be back in a while.”
“Where are you going?” Timmy asked.
“Somewhere I can keep dry and away from you two!” I yelled, not looking back.
I walked off of the beach and onto the wooden board-walk in a huff. Finding a spare seat, I claimed it and began to unload a few different items from my bag. Though no water had hit my face, I figured that I might as well busy myself with fixing up my makeup.
“You’re not gonna tan if you put any more of that stuff on,” a middle-aged woman with a baby on her hip said next to me.
I rolled my eyes and continued to apply powder. “I can tan at home.”
“You know, you’re still making summer memories like this.”
“What memories? Memories are actually good things to look back on.” This older woman had to be crazy. I was honestly beginning to feel sorry for her kids.
“No, memories are what you remember. You’ll look back on them, whether they are good or bad.”
I rolled my eyes and looked straight at her. “You do NOT know me. Why do you think that you can give me advice? You don’t know what’s going on.”
“No, but I saw you walk over here very dramatically.” She let out a small chuckle and continued. “I was a dramatic teenage girl once too.”
“Excuse me??? Dramatic? That’s it!” I stood up. “Stop judging me! You do not know me!”
She shrugged. “Just have fun with your family and don’t worry about being dramatic or what you feel like. You’ll be better off.” The woman smiled genuinely and went to playing with her baby.
I walked off in a huff but found myself slowly down to a relaxed walk once I was out of the woman’s point of view. I looked around, absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells around me. All of the vendors were busy. The popcorn was being popped and let off a buttery, salty smell that danced around my nose. The hotdogs were turning while they cooked, and the rhythmic squeak of the bars they were on was almost soothing. The roller coaster cars whizzed up and down the tracks, causing the ground slightly vibrate when they zoomed passed. Kids with cotton candy and ice cream stuck to their face laughed and they tried to squirm out of their parents hands.
Only a few years ago I had been the one wanting freedom, wanting to squirm free of my parents’ firm grasps. Now, I had that freedom. And all I was doing was walking around. Meanwhile, my younger twin brothers did not have the same freedom but were easily having twice as much fun. Something was wrong there.
The thing wrong there was my attitude. I had dumped water on my parents at the age of twelve, let alone ten. Plus, they were twins, so their energy fed off of each other.
Was I really supposed to expect to form great family memories if I was lying around all day or storming off at the slightest unpleasant surprise. (To be completely honest, the cool water had felt good on my warm, tanning skin.) Maybe the crazy older woman wasn’t as crazy after all. She seemed to know what she was talking about, especially if she had been like me years before.
I wanted to look back and remember going to the beach as a fun experience. I really did. I wasn’t enjoying myself, though. That was all my fault, and it had taken a talking-to by a stranger to realize that.
I turned around and headed back towards the beach, feeling kind of good about myself for having such a sudden realization. I was absorbing all that was going on as I walked, and a few times I found myself laughing at something I had seen or overheard without even meaning to.
I passed by the table that I had left the lady at, but she was not longer there. I saw her standing in line with two other children waiting to buy some cotton candy. The two children looked about Timmy and Jared’s age, and they waited anxiously and impatiently for their cotton candy.I remembered back to when cotton candy had been such an exciting thing as I slowly made my way back down to the beach.
Jared and Timmy walked up sheepishly when they saw me approach. “We’re sorry,” Timmy muttered, and Jared nodded.
I dropped my bag nearby my still-wet towel and placed my hands on my hips. “You guys are so annoying.”
Jared made a small circle in the sand with his feet and concentrated on that. “We’re sorry, Jay. We really are.”
I let out a sigh. Then, in one swift motion, I bent down and picked Timmy up. “That’s why I love you guys, though.” I ran down to the ocean with him in my arms and plopped him in the water.
Jared was on my heals, laughing. Timmy came up from under the water and began laughing also.
“Hey, you’re next!” I exclaimed, reaching to pick Jared up.
“No, no!” he shrieked, squirming and laughing.
“Okay, okay.” I put him down but in turn splashed him.
The two ganged up on me and won the splashing fight by a long shot, and the result was me standing there in the water, soaking wet. It was okay, though, because it had actually been a blast. (I did get them pretty wet, though. Especially Jared since I had already dropped Timmy in the water.)
They gave it a rest when I surrendered, and my parents asked me to watch them and to stay out of the water while they went to buy us lunch. So, we stayed up and all made sandcastles. Once again, they ganged up against me and “their army men attacked my castle.” (Another way to put that would be their hand smashed my castle so that there were no remains.)
Lunch was fun, and we let it settle for a while before going on any rides. I took Timmy and Jared with me so that my parents could go on whatever rides they wanted to. I guessed that they wouldn’t go on any and just walk around, but that was their choice. I’d rather go on the rides.
Timmy wasn’t too big on the larger roller coasters, but he ended up conquering his fear of them by the end of the day. A lot of that was due to Jared’s prodding and the gripping of my hand while on the ride until I barely had any feeling. I didn’t know that ten-year-olds could be so strong.
The car ride home is what I’ll always remember, though. I sat in the middle because both of the twins had mild car-sickness and need to sit by a window (lucky me). They were beat by the end of the day, and there was very little chance of them actually getting sick because it seemed like they would be asleep before we were out of the parking lot.
They were almost asleep out of the parking lot, and by the time that we were on the freeway, they were out cold. I felt myself start to doze off, but before I drifted off to sleep I noticed something. Both of the twins had fallen asleep against my shoulders, and one of them was hugging my arm while the other was nearly on top of me. They had never done that. They always fell asleep against the car, and they absolutely never gave me a hug. Even if they didn’t know it, that moment I felt so much love from them and for them. I have never viewed my younger brothers the same since then, even if they do get on my nerves. Also, my attitude towards family vacations has changed also. My parents have never asked me what made me change my attitude, but occasionally I’ll see them smiling approvingly in my direction.
Between their approval and my younger brothers’ love, family vacations have changed from a hassle to a great experience. And all of that changed with a comment from a stranger and the adoration of my younger brothers. Who would’ve thought?
Ithaca, New York
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