We took some friends up on their offer to join them for an overnight stay at their beach house. They had rented a four bedroom house on the beach, 25 minutes from home, and it was too enormous for their family of four. Some friends of theirs had the bottom house and another group of friends had the place next door. My kids were all giddy with excitement.
We left Saturday night and stayed all day Sunday. There were about 25 kids in attendance, visiting, and sleeping over, ranging in ages from 3 to 17. Pure heaven. I don't think I saw my own children for more than 20 minutes since they were off and running from the moment they woke up.
The adults sat on the beach while the kids rode bikes to the pier, heckled the seagulls, climbed on rocks, rode ocean waves with boogie boards, and played various games in the sand.
On Sunday morning I rose early to go to visit one of our regional campuses. When I returned, the beach community was packed with people. Packed. Finding a parking spot, at noon, on Sunday was going to ensue a three mile walk. I should have just left the car at church and walked to the beach.
As I drove near the beach house I meandered up and down side streets filled with a constant flow of bikers, walkers, joggers, skate boarders, and kids on scooters. I felt as though everyone lounging on their outdoor patios were laughing at me and my attempts to locate a parking spot, at the beach, on a holiday weekend. I even heard the cars parked in prime locations chuckle at me and my humongous, navy blue Suburban, cruising along the streets.
I needed a parking space close enough to accompany a woman in sandals, a skirt, carrying a heavy lap top computer in her shoulder bag, a purse filled with three dollars in quarters to feed the parking meters, ten bean and cheese burritos, 15 hard shell tacos, and a bag filled with 20 packages of hot sauce. Proximity was a key issue.
I finally located a spot two streets from where we were staying. Beautiful. I reached into my purse to plop some quarters into the expired meter and realized that my husband had taken my stash of quarters to feed the meters for his car and the car which belonged to the people with whom we were staying.
Dodging other cars looking for a parking spot, beach cruiser bikes, tattooed twenty year old men hooting at half-naked girls, surfers carrying boards and stripped of their wet suits, and children coated in thick layers of sand, I jog/walked back to the beach house, dumped my goods and rushed back to feed the meter, grumbling as I went.
In hindsight I could have sold my parking spot for a large sum of money, and then drove to the nearest coffee shop for a latte and alone time.
Hindsight never helps in the heat of the moment, but quarters do.