“You deserve it for your birthday.”
You thought my 80th birthday-on-the-boards: https://tinyurl.com/Lv-onbds was it for this new born octagenarian—one whose mind might be stuck at 18.
I spent the morning of my actual birthday on our sands, wearing, of course, my “birthday boy” ribbon. I was so directed by my sweet daughter, Kathleen: “Wear it on your birthday. Dad, don’t forget.” It sounded like the Seinfeld AIDS march episode’s “You must wear thee ribbon!”
So I sat in my sand chair breathing in the sea and sky when Long Beach lifeguard Captain, Mike came along and said, “Happy birthday, birthday boy.” Mike recognized me from past lifeguard shoots and blogs, he was with Senior lifeguard, Ron. Mike asked a nearby sunbather to take this snapshot:
I strolled the shore, music flooding my ears as the surf washed over my feet. I’ve always been undecided about which I prefer: walking to just the sounds of the crashing waves or listening to music, I’ve leaned toward the heartbeat of waves.
But I’ve since discovered that certain music, backed by crashing surf, is sublime. This birthday morning, the sounds of “Thought Museum,” mixed with crashing waves was like strolling through a surf of white clouds.
There is joy in being present, there are no Republicans, or Democrats in the surf and sand, no car repairs, no cancer, no Coronavirus. When you are really open to it, when you focus on the sand under each foot, the curve of each ruffle of bubbling water—you find your bliss.
I trekked to the Franklin Jetty and sat on a warm boulder, my camera resting with me.
When I got back to my chair, I sat almost alone on this spectacular sunny day—the air as clear as Rockford crystal, the sun—warm and soft as baby’s breath.
Then it happened.
Suddenly, from behind me, a young lady ran past me to the surf. At the water’s edge, she tore off her pants and plunged them into the sea. She hurriedly pushed another garment under. She grabbed her backpack and submerged it too into the waves, even filling it up—and dumping it out. Was there some contamination going on? Was there an infestation? Maybe swarming biting gnats from the dunes?
I was bewildered but also a bit delighted about the unexpected sight. I didn’t know what was going on, but I thought I’d shoot the frenetic scene first—then find out. After all, I’m always interested in something new for you, dear reader, something which might have a good story behind it. I mean, it’s my job, it’s what I do.
As she passed me on her return to her chair, I asked her what was up. Was there an infestation of some kind?
She gave me a big smile and said, “I spilled my yogurt all over and into everything.”
On my way off the beach, I passed where she sat with another lass, we chatted a bit. She too spotted my ribbon and wished me a happy birthday. I described the shot I took of her, explaining its angle and delicacy.
I gave them my card and spoke about my blog. I said I hoped for an unusual story with the water action, but I did like the photo and yogurt tale, it made my morning. She said, “Good, you deserve it for your birthday.” I said I hope it’s okay if I keep and maybe use it. I said, “Your face won’t be in it.” She said, “Sure, happy birthday!”
I suspect some of you readers, once in a while, would like to see more than birds and boulders. So, thank you, young lady, for helping an old man brighten his blog.
Later, back at the condo, Cheryl called me to our terrace, “Come and look at this.” I looked down and beheld a caravan of cars with signs spelling, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LEE, balloons billowing from their windows. Cheryl had gotten the pre-arranged text that the surprise was here.
We went downstairs to greet and air-hug family members. We laughed, we spoke of bigger get-togethers in saner times, they sang Happy Birthday…twice. Kathleen and family joined in from Fire Island via Face Time.
Some came from the east, some came from the west. But all came to wish me…all the best.
They apparently think I’m just fabulous. Yes, I still have them fooled.
So, I thank all who could make it and the others who couldn’t come due to work obligations in showing this love so emphatically. I also thank the one who took most of these shots, Lee’s squeeze, Cheryl:
I was genuinely delighted with this 80th. Now, full steam ahead for the next 20!