So do you feel like you're getting to know the real PeyPey yet? I hope so. Who knows how long these posts could go on? Seriously. Who knows? I have a lot I want you to know about me, ok?
Ok, so I haven't done a Thoughtful Thursday in two months and I'm hoping that this About Me can double as one of those, because what I'll be writing, although snarky, will be thoughtful.
First, let's review.
About Me #1 - I make friends easily.
About Me #2 - I am a brothers girl.
So making it's Thursday debut, here's your About Me #3.
3. I love the beach. And I'm actually leaving today to go to the beach for a long weekend with a bunch of girls. There will be wine coolers, sunburns, headaches from twelve different flavors of perfume, a multitude of hairdryers, all with a side of "Beach Bitch" thrown in, I'm sure. (That's the term I use when a group of girls go on a beach trip together. Some bitchiness is inevitable. Am I right or am I right or am I right? Right?) So yes, at 5:30 today, I'll be beach bound.
Girl beach trips have been a staple for me since I was about fifteen. I usually go at least once a year with a group of close girlfriends. And there have been times over the last five years when I've gone with Mark and his family. But one thing I haven't done in the last, oh, ten years is go to the beach with my family - mom, dad, Brad, Alex, and Molly (you may remember her better as Victoria Marie).
We used to go all the time growing up. We usually went with my dad's parents, Papa (pronounced PawPaw. This is important to mention because Papa, pronounced Pa-puh, and Papa, pronounced PawPaw, are two different names entirely. Ahem, yes, where was I?) & Granny. Papa & Granny (Alvin & Nell) were mill workers their entire lives for Swift Spinning Mills. Granny sewed denim jeans and I have no idea what Papa did. They lived where most of the mill workers in my city lived. It was a small but quaint house in all its asbestos-siding glory, with olive green kitchen appliances, linoleum floors, a cement front porch, lacking of central heat and air conditioning and it was in the not-so-nice area of town. There was a shed out back where Papa kept his tools and where Brad and I found, ate, and subsequently got sick from packages of MRE's left over from Vietnam (but the hot sauce bottles were just so dern cute!). Papa grew a huge garden every year. Granny smoked a pack a day. Papa watched Wheel of Fortune, went to bed, and was up and sitting on the front porch at four the next morning. Granny took me to the beauty shop every Friday with her. The ladies french braided my hair. Sometimes, when my mom had to be at work early, Papa would drop me and Brad off at school in the mornings. Before we got out of the car, he would say, "Y'all don't take no wooden nickels, ya hear?" And then, like clockwork, he'd be back to pick us up from school later that day and he'd ask, "Ya'll didn't take no wooden nickels, did ya?" I had no idea what this meant. Still don't.
Although my dad's parents never had a lot of money and lived life pretty simply, they could always afford a week-long beach trip with us. (Back then, it was just mom, dad, me and Brad. Alex and Molly were just one failed contraception device away though.) To afford our trips, my Papa would collect coke cans for a whole year, turning them in when he knew he had enough to pay for our accommodations at a pretty basic, ocean-side motel called "The Wind Drift". I don't tell you this so that you will take pity on me. No, not at all. Instead, I'll ask you to smile with me. Smile with me, remembering the dedication and discipline required of my Papa to collect thousands upon thousands of cans. Smile with me, knowing my Papa would do something that would be considered socially unacceptable to most, all so he could take a vacation with his family. Now laugh with me, thinking of just how many coke can filled garbage bags there had to have been in my Granny & Papa's backyard before he had enough to amount to the money he needed for the trip. The lesson I learned from this: if you need money, just collect some cans.
For reasons unbeknownst to me, my grandparents had a Chevy conversion van. (My dad was an only child. Who was grown. Who only had two kids of his own at the time. Yet, they needed a conversion van.) It was one of those that seat, like, ten people and have the curtains and mini-blinds you can pull over the windows. That's what we always took to Florida. I. LOVED. THAT. VAN. And if I had the chance to drive one now, I would. In a heartbeat. Papa would blare southern gospel until Brad would sneak in his Dino tape (ummm, Summer Girls? Best song ever. If you don't click on that link, we're no longer friends.)
We'd spend the week at the beach. My mom would claim she got "windburns" but she said her "windburns" would eventually turn into a "windtan". (People? She is crazy. There are no if's, and's or but's about it. She is crazy. I thought the crazy didn't show up until a few years ago, but remembering her "windburns" and "windtans", I know now that the crazy has been around for quite sometime.) I got "suntans" because I have this really great olive skin that never burns, unlike my mom, whose skin is prone to "windburns". (Ok, I'm done with that one.) My dad would walk the beach for hours. And hours. And hours. And come back and show me and Brad all the treasures he'd found. My Granny would smoke a pack a day. Papa would fish. Or he would put goggles and a snorkel on and spend all day looking for coke cans on the ocean floor. (Just kidding. He was looking for loose change.) We'd have dinner somewhere unfancy and then walk to get ice cream. The Wind Drift was across the street from FunLand, a Chuck-E-Cheese type place. We'd go there after ice cream and play for hours.
Even though I've been to some pretty great places with friends and with Mark, nothing, I'm telling you nothing, will compare to these lazy, unpretentious, paid-for-by-a-thousand-coke-cans vacations with my family and grandparents. Granny and Papa passed away when I was still pretty young, but I will be honest with you. I would give back every single vacation, girls beach trip, weekend road trip with Mark to be able to go to the beach with my Granny and Papa. Maybe Papa would let me drive the van (which would be AWESOME!) I'd still sneak in the Dino tape. I'd get tan, mom would get windburned. Granny would smoke a pack a day. I'd share a diet coke with my little sister and then we'd hand over the empty can to Papa, who'd throw it in his coke can collection bag for next years trip. I miss them very much.