1. Picking Oneself Up
It started with ice-cream, because what self-respecting summer’s day at the beach doesn’t? Surprisingly the ‘ice-cream’ effect, as I like to call it, didn’t last too long. Considering my mental depiction of how this day was supposed to carry out, it’s clear to say I’m beyond disappointed at how quickly it rolls downhill. Perhaps, if I were vague enough, I could blame the circumstances on the depleting heat or maybe a lack of water in favour of luke-warm fizzy drinks. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m half-naked, sun burnt and alone on what was meant to be the climax of my pathetic dating life.
I’ve had to scrub myself raw of sand beneath the utility showers at least three times already, merely because I refused to stumble into the salty sea and experience decades worth of liquid waste. It occurs to me belatedly that the showers are useless as the sun continues to beat down at me with the might of Thor’s hammer, leaving my skin an angry red and sweaty. I guess I could avoid the whole scene altogether, if I’d just allow my pride to dent and ask someone for help, but I don’t. I don’t because on this blistering day, surrounded by happy families, couples and friends, I’m lonelier than I’ve been since ninth grade. And ninth grade was pretty bad.
Muscles aching, I push onwards, falling into a light jog that really wasn’t all that great in this heat. My arms pump at my sides and I struggle to draw in meaningful breaths, but I don’t falter in my plight. I scurry my way across the beach until I reach the dock before turning with a tired sigh to head right back to where I’d started. Some idiot, probably my batty, blonde, basketball coach, had suggested I run on the beach when the blues crept up on me. And although I doubted gruelling hours of aching muscles and crisping skin was her intention, I couldn’t stop.
I just kept going, my mind slowly numbing the shock from that afternoon with the weight of fatigue. Momentarily my step faltered, my ankle twists in a particularly soft, dry patch of sand. I tumble, most clumsily, to the ground, successfully managing to get myself a mouthful of damp sand and shells in palms. For a short while I content myself with muttering ‘Disgusting’ while spitting out sand, but eventually I cannot ignore the sand clinging to the front of the stupid ‘Directionless’ shirt Himuro had left at my house years ago (which is really the only appropriate top I had for a beach date).
While I’m not entirely sentimental, the shirt still holds value and the fact is that being caked in damp sand – that anyone’s untrained dog could have peed on today – was mentally disturbing. I shove myself to my feet with only a soft grunt and almost topple over with a wave of dizziness. As much faith as I have in my endurance, I’m not sure I’ll be able to pick myself up emotionally or physically one more time.