If you've been following along with our summer, you know that the Noels have spent a great deal of time at the beach. See, we discovered early on that the girls' ridiculously early morning rise time worked to our advantage if we went with it. Saturdays you can find us jumping from bed and into swimsuits, throwing up messy hair (don't care), and tossing some beach toys into a larger-than-life beach bag (bless the Targets). We pile into the Jeep and drive with the windows down, even though it's still a bit chilly at 7 a.m.
There's a bagel place right before the stretch and bridge and toll that gets you to the Rockaways. Old Country Bagels, perhaps? The name escapes me. It truly looks like nothing, as all the real gems do. Order an everything bagel with bacon, tomato, and avocado, you're welcome. And don't forget one large iced hazelnut coffee, which, God bless New York, seems to be a staple in coffee shops from Brooklyn to the East End.
This past weekend was likely our last weekend in this routine. I'm not complaining about the cooling off--I can tell the air is starting to crisp around the edges. I'm eagerly awaiting what is coming. But I suppose it is bittersweet for me to let go of summer this year. This summer sort of seemed like a holding place, maybe. Us, the four of us, here in this crazy new place and figuring it out, and yet falling into this lovely weekend routine that didn't require much. Just a short 30 minute drive and some chewy bread and cream cheese before hitting the sands and enjoying the beach to ourselves for almost a solid hour, really.
I like the beach that way. Yes, I'm traditionally not a beach lover, but what a way to start a day. It reminded me of the summer I lived in Florida, right before I left for London, and that was a summer of finding myself, I suppose, if I need to pick one. When all the resorts were finally closing up their offices and the sun was starting to set, I'd pretend that I liked running and I'd jog all the way down to the end of the island. It struck me then as it did this summer: It's outrageous to reach the edge of something. Morgan once told me that she felt claustrophobic visiting me in Colorado because she knew there was no water nearby. I sort of get what she was saying now.
I spent a lot of hours this summer thinking about that. How even though my mind knows it can't fathom infinity, it sure felt like infinity looking out over that glistening empty water these weekend mornings. And I could ponder it while the girls squealed and got braver and braver by the waves each week and while my crazy husband would dive in months before it was really warm enough to bear the temperature. We'd walk parallel to the boardwalk and pick up shells and smooth stones. Every time I pick up a shell, I think, "I've no use for this. What am I going to do with it?" Yet I can't ever resist taking a piece of the day with us, my own little treasure to steal away.
I guess I wasn't expecting it, but the beach is now a very big part of the New York Noels. There will be new adjustments as we begin fall and fall lends itself to winter and then we see the turn of another year. But these first few months, we got to stand on the edge of time, just waiting, staring out into infinity, and soaking up the sun in the moments before the rest of this adventure begins.