Today I turn five years old. I’m in a tie-dye one piece bathing suit sitting in the sand next to my cousin who has already been five for six months. It’s the beginning of summer but the freckles on my cheeks and nose have already popped out. I reach over to my cousins hair and run my fingers down the string intricately wrapped and weaved in her hair. I want one but Mom says no. Instead, Mom gives me a quarter to buy an ankle bracelet made out of that colorful string from the older girls sitting on the steps by the pool.
I’ve spent my birthday at Waters Edge Beach Club for as far back as I can remember. Mom and Auntie Amy are allowing me and Rebecca to walk around by ourselves this summer, but I know they have Chubby keeping an eye on us. Chubby manages the beach club. He’s been around my whole life too. He’s a funny old man with a big stomach and he’s always sneaking up on us.
Mom says there’s going to be a wedding soon and we should go to the snack bar to order our dinner. Rebecca and I run up the stairs to the snack bar window with the family’s orders on a piece of paper in my hand. I give the lady the order and say, “charge it to cabana 53, thank you!”
The food comes just in time. Rebecca and I sit at the table on the porch of our cabana eating our grilled cheeses, ready to watch the wedding. Our beach club hosts weddings almost every weekend . A parade of men and woman in dresses and suits walk together with their arms linked. Mom says the dresses are tacky but I think they’re beautiful. Then, a little girl tosses flowers to the ground and that’s when the bride comes. She slowly walks down the stairs and makes her way through the club being careful not to slip on the sand in her heels. Another little girl holds the back of the bride’s dress. The bride looks like a princess. We all watch her walk over the rock wall and down to the beach where they have the ceremonies.
When the parade is over, Rebecca and I focus back on our dinner. When we both finish, we look at each other deciding without words that it’s time to go for a walk. As soon as we’re out of hearing distance we get to work on a plan. It’s my birthday which means we definitely want to have a sleep over. But the big question: whose house? Rebecca’s house has a bigger backyard but it’s my birthday so it’s got to be my house. Next order of business is whether or not to ask my mom if we can go to the Lighthouse. Mom only gets us ices on special occasions but since we have cake at my house, chances are slim. We walk back knowing exactly what we have to do. Rebecca will ask my mom if she can sleepover and I will ask Auntie Amy if Rebecca can sleepover. They won’t say no if we ask each others’ mom.
They say yes! It’s the best day ever!
Then (before Hurricane Sandy)