This is mine.
As long as I can remember, I have loved the feel of the sun on my face, the warmth of sun on a still mild spring day. My earliest memory is of me and the little girl next door, who I distinctly remember as having curls, swinging in my back yard. My mother said I would have to be about two or three to remember this, but I swear I do. I remember the feel of the wind through my hair and the sun on my face. And whether it was from the sheer exhileration of swinging, or being with a friend, or the first warm day of spring, I remember that feeling of being in the sun.
- Throughout my childhood, I remember loving the trips to the beach with my family. Leaving after school with the big car top carrier (we called it the Big Mac) on top of our super cool full sized van with shag carpeting on the inside and arriving late at night, but not to late for my brother and I to run to the ocean to cip our feet in the waves. Days spent on my Mickey Mouse/Olympic Ring/monogrammed electric pink beach towel in my brand new bathing suit, soaking up the sun. And my nose peeling the next week when we returned to school.
- As a teenager, I spent countless Saturday afternoons lathered in tanning oil in my backyard, on my deck, beside my best friend's neighbor's pool. I remember going to Panama City Beach with my high school friends as a junior, spending money in my pocket, and spending it all the first day we were there on suntan lotion guaranteed to get me the perfect tan. Funny how the cute young college boy who rubbed it on my back and convinced me to buy it was no where in sight when at the end of the day, I was a sporting a painful sunburn. In college, I continued the quest, even going so far as to go to a tanning bed before my spring break trip to Daytona, so that I wouldn't burn.
- And then came children. And not only did taking care of them strip me of my tanning time, it made me pay attention to the warnings that were starting to come out about the dangers of the sun. My tanning time became relegated to about an hour a day during our one week vacation to the lake with my parents. And now? Now that I have little children to care for and bigger kids to chauffer? A tan is a by product of walks in the afternoons to soothe a fussy toddler or an all day track meet.
- It's not so fashionable to have a great tan anymore. It's more in style to be healthy and slathered in sunscreen and wearing a hat. Before my own children go out into the sun, I cover them from head to toe in SPF 50.
And yet. That smell. The coppertone smell. The feeling of the plastic fold out lawn chair and the terry cloth beach towel. The pink cheeks, pink nose, and freckles. It brings back memories, and while I'm basking in the sun, eyes closed, feeling the sun on my face, I'm not a 43 year old harried working mother with a messy house and dimply thighs. Just for that moment, I'm still young, with my entire life in front of me. Still carefree, with my biggest decision whether to wear my Candie's lace up sandals or my Keds with my purple painters pants. Still youthful, beautiful, not able to imagine life after highschool, much less past (gasp!) 30. And while I love my life and can not imagine a better, more fulfilled life, just for that moment, I am taken back. And I am golden.