Beach Girls

There we were, 6 young girls who appeared to be adult women. Twenty years we’ve been taking this same vacation. Renting the same house, sleeping in the same bedroom together, bravely facing the ocean once again. Our chairs near the water, far away from the parents who appear to be growing old, we sit leaning toward the one in the middle who is reading her own book out loud to us.

It’s the first time we are even talking about life outside of the bliss of our vacation week. For twenty years, this vacation has been our Eden — perfect, happy, we are all present in each moment together. In this moment, the air feels beautifully charged, as if the six of us are sitting on the precipice of an exciting change.

The reader is sharing her own words that fully embody the girl we all know: She’s sharing personal experiences that we have never heard before, or that are new to us, because, after all, we never talked about life outside of our Eden.

After some time and some laughter goes by, we settle into our spots, soaking up every word. Two of us are leaning back with our eyes closed, listening intently and loving her words. High tide is coming in and flirts with our toes.

The reader’s words change.  The humorous phrases and reactions that were spread about in the beginning of the book are gone. The serious shift in the story is palpable.

The three mothers have come down to the water. It’s clear that they are eavesdropping. They say nothing to us and nothing to one another. They are just standing, too close, their backs to us. Without words.

The one who is reading is spilling out words after words, not losing her cadence, not changing her volume. The mood is tense as she recalls a time in the parking lot of her gym when her gymnastics coach snuck up behind her. Even though it is only the beginning of her book — chapter 3 to be exact — it is as if this part is the highest intensity for us girls who are listening. We, as the young girls, the daughters on this trip, have had twenty years of building this bond and it is strengthening with each uncomfortable word she reads. She is one of us. She is us. We know her. We know this experience because we’ve all had something like it. We didn’t know she did. We didn’t know each of us did. But, silently, now we know.

I see one of the other girls look at me, then look at the moms, then look back to me with annoyance. She mouths, “What the HELL are they doing? Why won’t they go away?”

And I feel the same way. This is our time, our bond, HER story that she is sharing with US. Not them. This is a daughters-thing and they weren’t invited.

But then, I wondered, are they lurking because they have been there, too? They have had similar experiences? Are we all bonded, as women, because this is the common factor?

And then one mom says to the reader, “Sarah, it’s time to go. We have to start packing up. We have to be on the road in an hour.”

It’s sad to have only started to know each other at the very end of a vacation.

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