Today was a big step for Simonne kind in this new normal world.
Carolina Beach is “open,” inasmuch as you can’t sit or play games on the beach, but you can walk, jog, surf, and paddleboard, socially distanced of course.
Oh, and there’s no public parking available. Everything is roped off.
As usual, I found loophole. Public parking might be closed, but the town’s press release said nothing about parking at the chain grocery store and walking a mile to the strand. And that’s exactly what I did with free parking to boot!
I wore a cloth mask I found on Etsy without sunglasses so if I was caught in a “circumstance,” I could at least communicate with my eyes. I walked towards the North End, but even the public beach access had boards nailed across the wooden path. I knew one spot that would be open. I chose to willfully ignore the laminated “No Entry/No Access” signs and smiled at the pedestrian gap in the traffic barrels with rope. And before I knew it, I was back on the beach. My heart sang it was so happy! I walked a couple of miles and encountered only four other humans.
Also, masks get really hot after a few miles on foot.
It was surreal to be on the beach on such a nice day without crowds. The waves looked decent, but I’d have to wear a wetsuit and would have no where to stash my bag and towel – that was illegal too – let alone carrying a six foot surfboard several miles. I stopped by the Boardwalk in search of curbside ice cream and it looked like a post-zombie apocalypse had occurred. There was no ice cream.
I’m pleased to report no encounters with the law.
It made me sad to think this year I might not experience my “Summer Sundays.” Last year, early afternoon on bright sunny summer Sundays, I would drive to Carolina Beach. I’d walk to the store “Go Sauce Yourself” on the Boardwalk and buy a beer – usually “Come Hell or High Watermelon” (which is basically summer in a can) – and take it with me in my beach bag. I’d spent the afternoon sitting – Sabbathing if you will – on the beach, sipping beer, and taking a dip in the ocean. I’d read, let my mind wander over the waves, and recharge with solar energy. If I was feeling especially crazy, I would get ice cream on my way home. I’d only be out there for a couple of hours.
Wait, you’re probably thinking, alcohol is illegal on the beaches here!
Well, there’s a loophole about southern culture that I’ve learned from all my years here: it’s quite gilded (which means a cheap metal is painted in a gold coat to give the appearance of solid gold, but obviously isn’t – appearance trumps everything). As long as you hide the alcohol, and aren’t disturbing the peace with your public drunkenness, no one cares. I had a koozie over the beer can, thus hiding what it was, so I was safe. I find this hilarious. If I ran Carolina Beach, I’d have patrols looking in everyone’s coolers and write enough alcohol citations to fund the town’s annual budget.
But I’m not, so I will gladly enjoy a beer. Obviously, I’m not anywhere near intoxicated.
The fact of the matter is even if the stay at home orders are lifted, our lives will be different for some time to come. Church says we hope to be meeting again by mid-May, and even if that is the case, it’s far too soon for me. I can socially distance myself at the beach – heck, I’ve been doing it for fourteen years now, but I don’t know what the summer holds or how long this virus will linger. I’ll just keep checking for loopholes and keep a low profile. As I do.