I took this photo of the sky at the beach a couple of years ago. Of course, the beach wasn’t silent: breaking waves, wind, birds calling, children’s voices . . . But what would it be like to float high above all that clamor?
After the so-called senior recital—which should have marked an end point, should it not?—the piano saga continued.
I played in a piano competition in Memphis the fall I turned fifteen. I was the youngest competitor, which should have told me something. Also, I’d refused to practice as I should. I went blank in the performance, just lost it several measures in. I started over and played fairly well, but the damage was done. I was humiliated.
My teacher for nearly ten years didn’t feel she had anything else to offer me, so my mother dragged me once a week to a nearby small college where I fumed for an hour under the tutelage of a young piano professor who forced me to play Bartok. I hated every minute. I had better things to do now. Those lessons lasted an interminable year.
Oh, but that summer!
By this time, my parents invited my best friend to go along on our beach trips. We usually stayed at Panama City Beach, in motels with names like Trade Winds and Surf and Sand. One year, we could see the amusement park just down the beach. We could walk there. (Chaperoned, of course.)
Here we are, prepping for the beach. And the second photo shows you what we found: a lifeguard. Cute, isn’t he? And he was mine!
He had a friend, too, for my friend, which worked out nicely. We mostly talked to these boys when they were off duty during the day, but one evening, my folks allowed us to invite the boys up to the motel (my parents had to meet them, of course), and then we were allowed to sit around the pool and walk on the beach. I don’t remember this boy’s name. I never saw him again. But it was heady stuff.
I had gone from little girl a year before to full-fledged teenager. Still no dates. Still no kisses. But I was on my way!
That friend, by the way, is still around. She and I don’t talk or write often, but when we do, it’s as though we pick up where we left off. Occasionally, she’ll send me a photo from when we were girls together. I do the same. Friendships like that, and memories of beaches and lifeguards, don’t fade with time.
Is there a particular place you associate with the time when you went from child to teen? A particular friend or experience? Tell me about it!