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Cape May Beach Fantasies

by Jane Kelly

First thing in the morning, coworkers see me sitting at my computer plowing through the fifty-five e-mails that inexplicably arrived between 11PM and 7AM.

Yes, I am reading those e-mails but that’s not all I’m doing.

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I am also experiencing the pleasures of being among the first to arrive at the beach.

I am enjoying the feel of cold sand under my feet. The kind that is soft and just cool enough to feel chilled not chilling. I am relishing the warmth – it’s not yet heat – of the morning sun and the particular glare, a pale almost white light, from the sun on the water. I am hearing the sound of the waves over the breeze in my ears, sounds punctuated only by the occasional call of a gull.

For my midday beach fantasy, I prefer to recall laying on my beach towel at an identical time of day -- feeling the sun growing warmer and my skin soaking up the rays. (For purposes of fantasy, I prefer to ignore sunscreen levels.)

I remember reaching a hand off my blanket to sift the sand that is growing hot. (And make a mental note to wear flip-flops off the beach -- that warm sand could be scorching the soles of my feet by late afternoon.)

I listen to the sound of the surf and the odd tone of voices as they drift by – all but the closest sounds hollow and muted. I recall breezes – not the kind that blow sand onto my towel – but the gentlest of breezes that entices stray strands of hair to tickle my cheek. And, most importantly, I recall the show the sun puts on using my closed eyelids as a screen – strange displays of constantly shifting shapes and motions – psychedelic yet comforting.

Sometimes, when seated in the overly heated section of a large office building with questionable temperature control, I need to fantasize about a dip in the ocean.

I have spent enough time in the seawater that I have no trouble recalling the pleasures of a plunge into the surf.

Generally, I start the fantasy when I have waded through the waves until the water reaches my chest and have, in the parlance of eight year olds, already gotten my head wet. Then I let the breakers roll.

Okay, I’ll admit it, for a while, I float over gentle rollers. Then the surf picks up. I go over. I go under. I jump. I dive. I duck. I imagine tall waves that drop me quickly down their back. I remember the shock of seeing another large wave breaking immediately behind the last. Should I go over or under? I duck -- and recall the sound of the water all around me, the thunder of the wave breaking and the swish of the tide behind it.

I open my eyes and enjoy the muted color of the ocean water – and an ccasional piece of seaweed floating by. In my fantasies, jellyfish and similar creatures are unknown.

Sure in the late afternoon, observers think I am really into that spreadsheet. And I am. In a way. It’s simply that I, like my computer, am multitasking.

I am also visiting a waterfront bar where slightly damp and a little sunburn, I sip a summer drink – the kind that may or may not contain alcohol but definitely contains crushed ice and fruit. Sometimes, I enjoy watching the boats pull up to the dock – some smoothly, some with difficulty. Other times, I simply watch the sunset.

When I feel like music I tend to go for a Caribbean theme, not hard rock, maybe a little reggae. No heavy beat to jar me from my reverie.

My beach fantasies don’t stop when I leave the office.

Even as I drift off to sleep I remember falling asleep at the shore with the moon high in the sky, the light breeze wafting the sheer curtains, the smell of the sea filling the room and sound of the surf providing background music for the scene. Maybe I sense that a little sand has crept into the bed. I feel the grains around my feet. But I don’t mind. After all, I’m not going to fantasize about doing the laundry.

I have enough memories stored to last me a lifetime. But that isn’t what I intend. I plan to get to the beach soon and record some new memories. But until I do, I have created a treasure chest of images to dig into. I suggest you do the same.

Jane Kelly is the author of three mysteries with a humorous twist set at the Jersey shore.

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