Friday, December 31, 2010

The Beach House

     It was different this time, the sun was shining and the soft breeze that tickled my skin was warm. Warm! It was insane, but I wasn’t complaining I loved warm weather. My point is that compared to the last time we were here everything was different.
     My sisters weren’t here this time; it was just Chase and I. Mom and Dad couldn’t even make it, but I didn’t mind it was fine being just the two of us.
     Chase and I weren’t particularly close, he was one of the older cousins and I was one of the younger, but I think this time it didn’t matter much. Chase’s family couldn’t come and my family couldn’t come and neither could Aunt Ruth and Uncle Ken and their two kids, it was just Chase and I.
     It felt really strange to go lay on the beach with Chase. It felt even weirder to stay in the same house as him with no one else there, but the weirdest part was falling asleep on the couch together.
     He and I would stay up late and watch tv and fall asleep and wake up in a tangle of legs and arms, sometimes one of us would be on the floor, it should have been awkward, but it felt natural to be this close to him. It felt like we were finally family.
     Brava for me! I had bridged the gap between the old ones and the young ones! Brava!

***
    
     “Juliana! Some guy is at the door,” Chase called from the front of the house, I ran down the stairs to see who it was.
     “Chase, don’t yell,” I scolded and turned to the guy, “Hey, I’m Juliana this is my cousin Chase.” The guy looked surprised to hear he was my cousin.
     “I’m Riley, I live next door. I think I got your mail,” he held out some envelopes and I took them from him.
     “Letters from home,” I said and handed a few to Chase he flipped through them.
     “Parents,” he remarked, “Nice to meet you Riley,” Chase left the room.
     “Yeah thanks, sorry for the inconvenience.”
     Riley and I talked for a few hours before he left, I was happy to have made a friend.

***

     It was a tradition now; Chase and I went to the beach house for a month every summer. Even now that we both lived in California and had jobs we still went to the beach house.
     I had finished school and started working for Google, Chase was doing whatever he did, I never really understood it. We lived in different apartments in the same city, Chase had roommates, but I didn’t. He would come stay with me a lot because of them.
     I walked on the beach the first day for hours. The warm white sand blew against my legs and the blue water lapped my feet as it surged in and out. It was excellent! I loved it here, I bloody loved it here!
     Chase joined me on my walk the next day, we must’ve walked an hour and we talked about everything. The third day we surfed for hours, the break was wonderful. On the fourth day Riley came into town and we all hung out together, it seemed perfect.

     “Chase, why do you think they never come?”
     “Who, Jules?”
     “Our families, how can they really be too busy for this?”
     We were lying in the hammock staring at the sunset, which was beautiful. We did this every night and we talked about important things.
     “Because they don’t know what they’re missing, besides, I like it just you and me.”
     The mail came the next day; my parents had been killed in a car accident. I was devastated, but I still sat in the hammock with Chase.
     “They never got to see it, they really have missed out.”
     “Well, they’re happy where they are, Julie.”
     “Yeah, Chase, I know.”
     I cried that night and Chase came in. He crawled into my bed and pulled me close to him and kissed my forehead.
     “It’s okay Juliana, go to sleep,” and I did.

***

     “Hey Chase,” I met him at the door and hugged him.
     “Next time I think we should fly together.”
     “But then it wouldn’t be like this!”
     “Like what,” he lugged in his huge duffle bag.
     “Like we just saw each other again after a year.”
     “Juliana, you’re crazy.”
     We laid out on the beach that afternoon and soaked up the sun. It was awesome. I always had fun with Chase, he was the best.
     “How do you reckon we became so close?”
     “Because you’re my older cousin and because you’re awesome, and we live in the same city.”
     “But before I would never have hung out with you, you’re a shrimp.”
     “Well Mr. Skyscraper, I’m of the opinion that I’m perfect.”
     “Yeah, but you’re like six years younger than me.”
     He was right it wasn’t natural, and I was actually seven years younger than him. I didn’t mind though, Chase was cool and I liked hanging out with him. He was, after all, the talk of the beach, literally. Every girl there was after him and he normally had had at least three girlfriends by the time we went home.
     “You need a steady girlfriend, Chaseter.”
     “Well, I’m working on it, besides I’m a young man I have plenty of time.”
     “Gosh, I’m not begging you to get married or anything, I just think you should have a girlfriend for longer than a month.”
     “Go find yourself a guy and I’ll think about getting a girl.”

***
 
     Chase walked in the door to find Riley and I sitting on the couch, we were watching a movie.
     “Hey guys, you’ve been over here a lot recently,” he said to Riley. I felt a little embarrassed because of how forward he was.
     “Sorry, about that Chase, parents didn’t come this year and my sisters are a little oppressive. You’re just an escape,” Riley said standing up, “but that’s okay I should be going anyways. See ya later Julie.”
     “Bye Riley,” I turned angrily to Chase, “why do you have to be so rude? It’s not like he’s imposing or anything.”
     “He’s digging into my vacation time.”
     “It’s my vacation too!”
     “Yeah, it’s our vacation, our vacation, to spend together!”
     “Chase, I spend the whole time with you, a whole month! What’s a few days with Riley here? Gosh, we were just watching a movie.”
     “Well, I’m tired of the kid always being here, it’s not the same with him here.”   
     “He’s older than I am Chase.”
     “Whatever, fine you guys can hang out everyday, I don’t care!”
     I watched Chase bound up the stairs feeling sad. I really hated it when we fought, especially on our vacation.

***

     Chase and I had both been married awhile, I’d married Riley and he had married a girl named Abby, but we went to the beach house with just each other.
     “I’m glad for this tradition,” I said when I greeted him at the door and lugged in his huge duffel bag, “This time I really haven’t seen you in awhile,” and I hadn’t. He and Abby moved into their own apartment and Riley moved into mine. Chase didn’t come over half as often, and when he did Riley was there.
     “Yeah, I’ve missed it being just us,” he said and hugged me.
     “Well, we’ve got the month together.”
     I ran into the water screaming while Chase ran after me. Inevitably he caught up with me, scooped me up and dunked me.
     “It’s not even fair, you’re a giant!”
     “Whatever, get over it Jules! I will always be the dunking king.”
     We fell asleep in the hammock that night.
     We went swimming again the next day, and Chase deposited me onto a jellyfish, a jellyfish, not jellied fish, but a jellyfish.
     “Cut it off Chase, just cut off my leg!”
     “There’s something they do to make it better.”
     “You can’t remember, just put me out of my misery,” I begged.
     “I know you soak it in hot water!”
     I didn’t even know if that’s what you were supposed to do, but it sounded better than lying on the beach doing nothing. Chase picked me up and put me in the bathtub.
     “Gee, look at your leg!”
     “I don’t want to, don’t tell me about it!”
     “It’s purple..”
     “Chase!”
     “It looks like a tumor.”
     “It’s not a tumor,” I yelled, and he bust out laughing.
     “It’s not a tumor,” he said with a German accent, we both laughed, for a long time. “I’ll be back,” he said with a German accent and went to get some cream.

***

     It was the last day of our month and we were sitting in the hammock.
     “Do you think we should bring them next year? I don’t know how Riley is doing by himself with Akala.”
     “I will never understand why you named your kid that.”
     “Because it’s aboriginal, Riley’s parents are aboriginals.”
     “Yeah, name the next one Moondance Starchild and say your parents were hippies.”
     “That’s not funny!”
     “Look Juliana, I won’t complain if you bring Riley and Akala, but I like it being just us.”
     “Yeah, me too, I miss you a lot for the rest of the year. Maybe we could spend two months here and they could come for the second month. Or maybe we can plan a week long vacation, I want Akala to have this.”
     “That I wouldn’t mind, maybe Akala and Tyler will have what we have.”
     “I hope they both have significantly younger cousins that they become best friends with.”
     “Well, either way.”
     We said goodbye the next day I left last. I locked the door and caught a taxi to the airport. Every time I locked the door to our beach house I locked up our memories. I really loved it there. I grew up with him there. Even now when Chase and I were older and married and had kids, we were young there.
     I would always love this place.

***

     “Hey Chase, Abby, glad you could make it! Hey Tyler, Akala and Uncle Riley are on the beach building a sandcastle.” Abby followed Tyler outside, recognizing Chase and I’s desire to catch up.
     “Well, it’s the first month, but the second month will be excellent,” Chase said as he hugged me.
     “Yup, better than excellent,” I said and helped him lug in his huge duffle bag.