Every summer — of course the exception of last summer — my family does a beach vacation. It’s always a wonderful time with lovely, kind, and caring people.
A few weeks beforehand, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed. I called my sister having a panic attack, because my vet appointment for my cat, Venus, who needed to get her shots updated before boarding — was somehow never scheduled. Instead, I had to reschedule for a day I was supposed to work. Then I had to find coverage for work, which was probably a blessing in disguise, considering I would be working almost 60 hours that week.
I decided I would have my two cats stay at a pet boarding home while I was away. I know most people find a cat sitter who can stop by their place. This is the first time I’ve done boarding for my cats. Right now, it just feels like the safest option for me. I know it’s stressful for the cats, and it’s not very spacious, but knowing they are in professional care in a reliable setting eases my anxiety. The thought of them being in my apartment through the night without me didn’t feel right. Mainly because fireworks have been going off all month which scares the heck out of them. There’s no easy option for deciding how your pets will be taken care of while you’re gone, they all have their pros and cons. At this moment, this choice felt safest to me.
This is an annual vacation that I’ve been going on since I was born. Last year, 2020, was the only time I (and everyone else) missed it. There have been so many changes since summer 2019, in every single aspect of my life. I won’t go into detail, but there’s been many changes. The most obvious one, that we can all relate to, is that we survived a pandemic since then. Just let that sink in for a moment…
We have been staying at a beach house that my aunt (Nancy) and uncle (David) have been renting for the past five years or so. The beach house is so charming, the best part is how it has it’s own character. Every room is like it’s own entity with specific personality traits. I stayed in the “elephant room” — full of maximum pink — a little girl’s dream. This room truly stands out the most. The others have beach themes, with unique flairs.
Before this beach house, we’d been staying at the same hotel for at least ten years. And then before that, we had a previous beach house (The “Hershey House”) that was lovely and charming in its own way, but does not compare to the new one. This old house was so small, it’s amazing to think how we used to shove all the little cousins (myself included) into a tiny basement with no air conditioning. But so many great memories were made there, including singing group the Little PJ’s (myself, Priscilla, and Julia) as well as Scott’s short-lived standup comedy act.
I had a fantastic lunch (spring rolls and iced tea) at a seafood restaurant with my aunt and uncle, my dad, and my sister.
There was some drama right before moving in. The landlady was there finishing up preparations, as my uncle had his car parked at the drop-off area to unload bags. Parking was a nightmare because it was Saturday afternoon and everyone wanted to be at the beach. Miraculously, the perfect spot opened up right in front of the house, so that landlady ran over and tried to save it while my uncle pulled around. Sadly, some guy drove in to claim the spot. As a group of us ran over, she was really upset, telling us how rudely this man spoke to her. Apparently, he said some really nasty things to her — totally unnecessary and hurtful. She told him something like, “you can’t talk to a woman that way on God’s square!”
Now, I understand that parking is tight, but the way he spoke to her really aggravated me. Although I was too far away to hear them completely, I could see from a distance that he looked like a really crabby old man, and this landlady was so kind and sweet and shouldn’t have been barked at like that, just for trying to do our family a favor. Yet somehow, my uncle was still able to squeeze in — but the cars were bumper to bumper.
At this point, the nice landlady had already left, but the crabby man walked up to us probably about to complain how his car was stuck now. I very bravely confronted him and told him that he shouldn’t have spoken to that lady like that, that it was very mean of him. He defends, “look, I said I’m sorry, but I drove all this way and it’s my wife’s anniversary.” And then I said, “okay, that’s not an excuse to be mean to people…” and I keeps defending himself, and I just start laughing and say, “I don’t care!” And finally he walks away. Eventually, my uncle got the space to pull forward, and the crabby man got back in the car and drove away and luckily we never had to deal with him again.
My other uncle (Joel) kindly gifted me with these amazing cat books. Two of my greatest passions: cats and books!!! Alongside, my cousin Rob who is still not yet legally allowed to drink, made super delicious orange cocktails for the family throughout the trip.
Walking through the Asbury boardwalk is so much fun. There is so much incredible artwork.
I had a playa bowl for lunch with my sister Julie, cousin Silla and her man, Manny. And then some yummy French fries for dessert.
Sunday evening, we went on a beer tour, thoughtfully organized by my uncle (Joel.) This is a somewhat recent tradition, probably within the past few years. For this one, we made stops at three different breweries, half-hour walks between each one.
On the way, we stopped at this gorgeous, abandoned house. It was hard to capture on film how enchanting it is. There are so many ingrown plants and flowers, lots of whimsical, little sun decorations.
The first (and my favorite) stop was a little brewery called The Little Dog. As you can see, I got myself a t-shirt.
The second stop, The Beach Haus, was a dependable bar we have re-visited the past couple times. It looked a lot more up-and-running this year, compared to the first time, when it looked a bit more hipster and deconstructed. Now it’s become a full-on sports bar with giant TVs everywhere. A lot of people got food at this point, but I was still stuffed from the boardwalk. Instead of beer, I opted for a pretty cocktail.
Finally, the last bar. For this, my favorites were Pinky and We Playing — they had more of a fruity taste. The others were good, but had more of a “beer” taste — personally, I prefer fruity. I actually ended up swatching those two for more of We Playing, because others didn’t like that one so much.
Returning to the house that night, we had yummy takeout pizza. We played a game of Pit (classic), and then I stayed up and did some tarot with a few others!
By Monday, I was feeling quite burnt out. I really overexerted myself. I went to the beach that morning and the waves were totally knocking me out in a good way, they were so big and strong!
Afterwards, I really needed to recharge with some quiet, alone-time. I took a solo walk into town and stopped at my FAVORITE store — The Comfort Zone — full of homemade soaps and lotions, as well as a generous book selection including best-sellers, self-help, and New-Age spiritual stuff. I bought an ocean-scented bar of soap, a novel (Circe), and a pack of oracle cards. And then I went into the grassy-field area to read.
On the way back, I had to stop for crepes, too.
Tuesday morning, we had a “lady’s breakfast.” I ordered strawberry creme brûlée French toast — SOOO DELICIOUS!
Afterwards, a group of us went this place where you can play unlimited pinball!
And we also spotted a wild fox one evening!!!
And thus, concluded OG21 for me! As relaxing as it is, it’s also a very exhausting time, full of so much excitement and constant on-the-go.
Also, this has basically been my first time out and about since the lockdown began almost a year and a half ago! It was strange not wearing masks, and I found myself getting a little paranoid about getting too close to strangers at times. It’s not so much that I was worried about other people’s germs, but more-so worried about people thinking I was being unhygienic just by being close, like how you how you have to lean in closer to a cashier to make sure they can hear you. I don’t want people thinking I’m breathing on them.
I don’t know about all of you, but I was very good and I followed orders during lockdown. I mean, being a natural introvert, I’ll admit that lockdown was far easier for me than others. But I didn’t take any vacations during that time, I didn’t go anywhere, I never went to a bar or restaurant (besides takeout), and so on.
Although we do not know what the future holds, whether this pandemic will finally come to a close or resurge once again, I say let’s enjoy this moment while we can. Let’s embrace the fact that we survived a turning point in history, that we all experienced this hardship together, and that we have all become more grateful and stronger because of it.
By the way — I wrote a book!
This vacation also served as a celebratory period for a proud accomplishment of mine. I wrote a book! Thank you everyone so much for your support! Click here to purchase if you haven’t already!
It has been my life-long dream to publish a book. As a child, I was always told that this was a nearly impossible dream — that being a writer is too hard, that it’s not worth striving for. Times have seriously changed since my childhood — self-publishing is a million times easier than it ever used to be — with the invention of e-books and big companies like Amazon offering very simple and doable self-publishing services. Yet still, I’m proud of myself. Even as self-publishing continues to become more widely accessible, the act of writing a book is always going to be a challenging journey that requires a lot of focus and dedication.