Follow me on Twitter

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Why Life's a (Walk on the) Beach

I just got back from vacation.  Damn, I HATE getting back from vacation, especially when it’s raw, cold, windy, rainy March and vacation was Naples, FL, resorts and Disney World.  Aside from the obvious flaws of March in the Northeast, being back home also means doing laundry, paying bills and “getting back in the routine”.  I think re-entry to “the routine” may be the toughest part to take.

That’s really the nicest thing about vacations, right?  The lack of any real agenda, apart from the beach, hitting any favorite local spots and securing a “fast pass” for the Haunted Mansion.  I have a six mile walk I take on the shore every day I am in Naples that is to me the equivalent of 10 years of therapy.  It’s my favorite place to relax, reminisce and observe.  This year I decided I would write down some of my favorite things so that I could share on the blog:
DAY ONE:  or, as it’s known in the vernacular, “Blister Day”.  That first 6 mile trek is hard on feet that have been padding around in LL Bean wicked good slippers for the past several months, and I inevitably develop blisters.  This year was no exception and two beauties arose; one encompassed the entire pad of my right big toe, the other wrapping around the side of my left toe and promptly filling with blood.  If you think this stopped me from walking 6 + miles on each subsequent day…well, let me introduce myself:  HELL NO!  A couple of monster blisters won’t even slow me down.

Apart from that, day 1 was jam-packed with excitement!  A celebrity sighting!  A mermaid washed up on the beach!  A sea turtle!  A dolphin!  A guy wearing a t-shirt that said “Gross Training”!  Because being gross isn’t as easy as it looks!!!
The celebrity in question was none other than Kato Kaelin*!  Looking just as you’d suspect Kato Kaelin* would be looking after all these years and doing just what you suspected he’d be doing:  living the glamorous life of a beach bum in a luxe tropical locale.  Kato still has the mop of blond hair and vacant expression that made him famous.  He did not seem to notice/mind me staring at him, but I’m sure he’s used to gawkers by now.

The mermaid was even more intriguing…a pretty young lady who appeared to be 20ish sitting at the edge of the surf with her mermaid tail and flowers woven in her hair…she seemed to be alone, although the beach was crowded so she may have had a “handler” out there.  What was she doing?  Waiting for people to ask for photo ops? Looking for her prince?  Trying to escape the sea witch?  I enjoyed the illusion she was creating, so I stifled my natural curiosity and walked on.  I never saw her again, so whatever her motive--apparently it was fulfilled that day.
The sea turtle was sadly quite dead; but little children gathered flowers and shells and created a makeshift memorial, as little children are wont to do.  The dolphin, on the other hand, was boisterously alive and jumped the waves for me as I walked the shore.

As for the guy in the “Gross Training” t-shirt…as I got closer, I was disappointed to discover that the shirt actually said “Cross Training”, but an unfortunate graphic gave the impression of a “G” instead of a “C”.  As the days went on, however, I became firmly convinced that “Gross Training” is actually a thing.  Perhaps even a rage, as it were.
DAY 2:  Kato Kaelin* was back!  I don’t know why I was surprised; isn’t hanging out at the beach all day, every day the beach bum thang?  Today he noticed me staring and stared back, which was awkward and meant I couldn’t observe him as closely as I wished.  He had a helluva tan, I’ll tell you that.  After I had walked a safe distance beyond him, I did crane my neck around for a final glance to no avail…he was STILL watching me.  Perhaps suspecting I was paparazzi?  No restraining order was issued, however, so all’s well that ends well.

I also saw an elegant older lady in a spiffy suit with a cute eyelet ruffle strolling with her daughter.  At one juncture the eyelet seemed to have frayed and split apart from the skirt; given her very put-together appearance, this detail was surprising.  I scrutinized and determined it was actually a ratty Kleenex she had secured in the elastic of her leg hole.
What is the deal with old ladies and Kleenex?  I have to buy the Costco pack whenever my Mom comes to visit; otherwise, one box lasts us a year.  Old ladies don’t go ANY where without Kleenex and the snot rag jammed up the leg of that lady’s suit truly epitomized this.  Of course as I ruminated on the topic the VERY NEXT old lady I happened upon had a tissue clutched in her hand like she was Linus with his security blanket.  Truth.

Other than that, I was treated to a POD of dolphins so near the shore that when one of them chased a sand shark through the shallows, it literally washed up at my feet! (Don’t worry, the tide took it back out a moment later).  I got caught in a flock of seagulls as they lifted off en masse, bringing to mind Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.  And critically:  first MAN BUN sighting.  I mean, pretty sure it was a man.  S/he also boasted impressive MAN BOOBS.

DAY THREE:  Kato Kaelin* was suspiciously absent, leading me to fear I had chased him off.  But today there was a lot of LOVE on the beach.  Cute families and couples stopping me to take a picture for them, a very pretty girl and her boyfriend (who looked as if he might have been involved in the Gross Training movement) frolicking and macking in the surf, older couples walking along the beach holding hands.

FYI: “Walking along the beach holding hands” should qualify as an Olympic Sport, IMHO.  Older couples do it best because they are generally moving slowly enough to accommodate all the bumps and irregularities of sand trekking.  I’m always a bit in awe of people whose arms are the correct, compatible length for extended hand-holding anyhow.  My arms are very long and my husband’s are disproportionately short, which means I have to kind of hitch my shoulder up and awkwardly bend my arm when we are standing next to each other holding hands.  Then add bobbing along on an uneven terrain for any period of time…let’s just say my hand-holding days are behind me.

DAY FOUR:  The beach must have sensed I was loathe to leave, because it made my final walk a tough and blustery one…heading to the pier, the wind was so strong in my face that I had to keep my head down the whole way to avoid getting sand in my eyes; this made it nearly impossible to observe anything.  I did get to see a fisherman catch a small shark (he hollered, which made me look up), but other than that I was watching my blistering toes make tracks.

On the way home, however, I had the wind at my back, urging me along.  Kato Kaelin* had returned, quieting any fears I may have had about scaring him.  I looked at all the different shapes and sizes and colors of the bodies on the beach and wondered:  how in the world did we ever agree on an “ideal” that represents virtually NO ONE?  And while the “Gross Training” is definitely a trend we might want to dial back, I could see also SO MUCH BEAUTY in all those different shapes and sizes and colors. 

On that last windy day, I overheard a blurb of a conversation as I trudged along; just one sentence, but it was the sentence I needed to hear:  “You can always find a reason for NOT doing something.”  How true that is; although there is really only one reason…FEAR.  I had been feeling afraid about a lot of things, but a stranger on the beach reminded me that making excuses is chump work.  As Joseph Campbell posited, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”  I didn’t see any caves on the beach, but I did find a lot of treasures.

Life is like a walk on the beach…some days the wind is in your face and you keep your head down; other days the sky is so blue you feel like your heart could burst with joy.  You have to keep things loose to get the most out of it; you never know what might happen or who you might meet.  Nearly all of it is interesting and even when it’s sad, like the sea turtle, compassion can transform it into something holy.  You will suffer blisters and injuries, but the key is to keep going in spite of them.   "Arrival" is never the goal--having the experience is.  If you keep your eyes and ears and heart open,  you will see and hear and find exactly what you need to learn.

*not actually Kato Kailin.  Just a man who very strongly resembled Kato Kailin.  If you would like me to assign you a celebrity look-a-like, just let me know!!!



  1. So much fun, Kara! I really wanted it to be the real Kato, I must admit and Gross Training is going to be the next big thing, I can feel it. Your blog continues to amuse and impress. Thank you!

  2. This one made me laugh out loud a couple of times. Damn, how I wish I'd been to to spy on Kato with you and fill the beach with our trademark Kennedy Sister laugh ...

  3. OMG SO MANY LAUGHS! Love this. :)

  4. Sounds divine, Kara! And love your sense of humor, especially with the "Gross Training." I think that's a better word for it anyway! (ha) I have a place on the beach I go to once a year and your comment about the walking being therapy is so true. I'm itching to be there now but won't be able to for months. They say anticipation is half the fun! So glad you made time to go. Good luck getting back into the routine. Hopefully you can keep some of the sand with you.