Pin It We're here--VA Beach. It's finally that time: Nationals, aka the Junior Olympics, and we are MEGA excited that not only did we just have to drive a few hours down the road (as opposed to flying clear over to California like last year), but we are able to turn the event into a little mini-beach-vacation. And we got to bring Lawson along, although he was a little bummed that he still did not get to take that airplane ride.
"Maybe next year, buddy," we fake-commiserated, fist-pumping behind his back at our incredible luck in not having to shell out a few hundred more Ben Franklins for the privilege of tucking him into an extremely uncomfortable climate-controlled seat twenty-some thousand feet in the air for a few hours. "We're sorry it didn't work out this time."
This is one of the biggest Nationals ever, we've heard. Over two-thousand competitors in attendance, and who can blame them? It's the beach. Even if it is VA Beach. I haven't been here, even if I do sort of live here, since I was a kid. I have vague memories of jelly fish in the water and the boardwalk, swimming in a pool with floaties and those requisite thirty-minute time-out periods after peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, and Sunkist soda, and a little carnival. I remember a ground floor hotel room with the toilet in a little room separate from the sink, and an air conditioner with an audible hum and drip that lulled me to sleep at night. I remember a yellow tee-shirt and khaki shorts and waist-length hair with streaks of sun.
We're staying at the Cavalier this time around, one of the oldest and most respected hotels in VA Beach. We have to valet the car, which is annoying, but have a wonderful view of the ocean from our little balcony. The sound of surf is one I never tire of.
We had a free day today before training and competition starts, and naturally spent the morning at the beach and the afternoon at the pool. I started this morning gathering together all of our beach gear and, of course, the first item to go into the bag was the camera. I always turn it on to check the settings before tossing it in.
It wouldn't turn on today.
I looked at it, bewildered. I had just charged the battery before leaving Lynchburg...I distinctly remembered waiting after plugging it into the charger for the light to turn red, indicating that it was charging. I released the battery and popped it back in, turned it off, then back on. Nothing.
I went through I don't know how many fruitless efforts, all without success, to get some response out of my 30D. It is at this point dead as that proverbial doornail. I have visited two different stores and bought a new battery, but neither has a charger to charge it. I'm not giving up, but at this point it's sort of looking like I'm actually going to be on a vacation without a camera.
It's kind of surreal.
As I sat on the beach earlier and pondered this reality, I considered that I needed to take snapshots in a different way--much like the way I did as a child on that long ago trip to this same place. What did I want to remember? There--there was the first snapshot, right in front of me. Autumn: in her brown and white polka dot bikini with its pink ruffled edge dancing at the edge of the pale brown waves. She's so skinny, and the waves are buffeting her, but she's sleek with muscle, too, and she's holding her own. Lawson, right beside her, just got knocked on his butt. He's wearing lime green bermudas, and a black and green board shirt that he refuses to take off. He's already as brown as a little nut. Appropriate, since he is a little nut.
And snapshot two: wide grins and hair slicked close, fingers clutching Tweetie-Bird and Spider-Man boogie boards as Autumn and Lawson belly-ride them in on white foam. Duane in the background, laughing.
Snapshot three: toes, peeking pink through gritty sand.
All of it set to the auditory snapshot of Josh Radin, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Train playing on the Ipod in my earbuds. I miss my camera. It's hard, not having it to capture every little subltety of expression, or shade of smile. I'll make it, though. And perhaps even become a little stronger for the lack of it.