Today was pretty much a perfect Memorial Day.
My father is a veteran, and I got to see him today for dinner. Steak on the grill! He looks great and was in a wonderful mood– my aunt and cousin came over and we had a small family cook-out. We laughed and took pictures and ate! I’m grateful to my Dad for his service in the Army, as well as to any currently serving military men and women, and of course– the fallen who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
I didn’t attend any parades– and celebrated my freedom today by taking a spontaneous road trip to a small Chicago beach with my dear Scorpio sister, Christine. Neither of us are morning people, but last night we both decided it was worth getting up early to lay out for a few hours and do something fun! She had to work an early evening shift, but I assured her we’d have plenty o’ time to get her home in time to relax and go to work refreshed. Last summer I had achieved the same thing with flawless execution so that I could attend a beach bachelorette party and then get to work in the afternoon.
I won’t divulge which beach we sunned ourselves on today, because it’s awesome for a reason: not many people go there. But it’s much less crowded than North Avenue, and I’m thankful to my city friend who tipped me off about it about years ago.
I volunteered to drive, and picked Christine up about 10 minutes after 9 a.m. She was ready to go, we stopped to grab iced coffees, gas up, and then sprinted into Jewel to buy a few beach essentials we’d forgotten: sunblock, beach towels, hydration, and a cooler. How neither of us own a proper beach towel mystifies me, but nonetheless, we did our best to find one at Jewel. We found two striped ones on hangers, and just grabbed them. Hers was blue, mine orange. And I bought my first cooler– it was ORANGE. I couldn’t say no. We couldn’t stop laughing about the towels, because they were smaller than our bath towels, and appear to be made for children! If we had known that, we’d have saved our money– but it added to the charm of our beach adventure.
We zipped up I-55 North in record time, arriving– parked– at our destination in a little over an hour– maybe an hour and 15 minutes. There was no traffic, and no trouble parking. I LOVE parking this little car!
When we arrived, the beach was sparsely populated– to our delight! We laid out our “baby towels” and anchored them down with flip-flops, our purses, and set to applying our tanning lotion and sunblock. I apparently did a crappy job on my back, because I am now red as a a lobster. It was overcast when we arrived, shortly after 11– and we looked at some old-school books I brought along because they are ridiculous and thus perfect beach “reading” material. One was a “Beverly Hills: 90210,” fan book from 1991, and we took turns taking pictures “kissing” the pictures of our favorite early ’90s hunks in the cast.
I gave a smooch to iconic bad boy Dylan McKay, because Luke Perry was the dreamiest thing with a pompadour and sideburns back then. (I’ll always love that line from Clueless when Dionne says that “Cher is saving herself for Luke Perry!” And Christine planted one on yuppie Brandon Walsh, who rose to fame on the power of Jason Priestly’s blues and impeccable mullet.
After laying out for a bit, we ventured into the water. We took turns taking pictures of each other splashing and frolicking in the water, posing with her sun glasses and my sweet new floppy hat! (I lost my prescription sunglasses last summer at a wedding, so the hat is all the sun protection I’ve got!) We wanted to get a picture together, but didn’t want to chance some stranger dropping one or our phones into the water or making of with our iPhones. So we only have a couple pictures together, which we took ourselves– but they are so cute.
By 1:15 we ready to go, and we made it back to Joliet in time to hit up a Sonic and order some food. It was the ideal choice to for our summery day, and then I dropped her at home in plenty of time to get ready for her shift. I believe it was circa 3:07 p.m.
But although we had a blast doing an impromptu photo shoot, and sun bathing, the best part — for me– was just the journey there and home. Rushing around to get our supplies, jamming to a mix tape, and chattering away in the car with the windows down. We caught up, laughed, and told stories about our awkward high school dances and the dresses we wore. On the way home, Christine was taking pictures of the lake front, the Chicago skyline, and I was enjoying driving home from Chicago for the second time this week in my new wicked ’90s car. Looking at all the pictures we took and deciding which ones to delete and which ones to post was hilarious– we both have a bunch. Mine are taking forever to load through the app, but I’ve already put a few on Facebook.
It was just amazing that everything went according to plan. We both woke up on time, bought what was needed, and somehow arrived without delay or getting lost, to find a perfect parking spot. We enjoyed the two hours we had on the beach, and were both ready to leave at the same time, and made it home without Memorial Day traffic. We were able to eat quickly, take another picture, and then go about our days without being rushed. Christine made fun of me for wanting to take a picture of everything we did, but I couldn’t help myself!
I admit, I love having an iPhone and the way it works seamlessly with Facebook– I love having a friend who likes to take silly pictures as I much as I do, and who isn’t self-conscious and can have fun laughing at even the bad ones!
I felt young, thankful, beautiful and free today. I was able to make a last-minute plan with my friend, and everything worked out just right.
God bless America, Lake Michigan, and spontaneous friends like Christine.