Letters to Holly

Saturday, August 15

The Big Birthday Present

I now own a PlayStation 3.

I am a loyal Sony consumer, stretching back to the PS1. I got a PS2 on its launch day as part of a young-reporter effort at the daily newspaper. About eight of us tracked them down as they hit the shelves, and we all wrote about it for a mega-article. My model works to this day. Its built-in DVD player was too good to pass up, and I bought the Fight Club DVD before owning a player.

The PS3 has a Blu-Ray, and that too sealed the debate between this console and the Microsoft competitor. The PS3 also has free WiFi access, and we have it coursing through the house. It was financially too good to pass up. We bought Dark Knight on Blu-Ray today and will try it out tonight. It will be the first HD viewing on the fancy-shmancy TV we got for Christmas.

Your Sister asked that whatever we get still allow us to play Guitar Hero. I assured her that would happen. She was content with that, and we bought the new gizmo.

Friday, August 14

Back Home

But first, Thursday.

I started my 37th birthday sore as hell from the surf class. I ran for at least 3 miles on the beach, this time with shoes. The refreshingly flat terrain should have made the run far easier than my usual route, but the varying stability didn't help. Still, I ran farther than I did when I was a mere 36. Take THAT, Gregory 36!

The overcast day encouraged us to hit the ocean for longer than before. Mom slept under the pier (which makes her sound like a hobo) where we had relaxed during the entire week in the sand. We found a Barnes & Noble, and Your Sis swiped my books before I could pay for them. I cursed her scaly hide.

We drove an hour away for the kayak tour. Mom was freaked, but she found it fun and relaxing when she accepted the fact there were no rapids. It was a nice tour, similar to our Outer Banks kayak trip last year. Oddly enough, it also took place on my birthday. A late Cracker barrel dinner led to ice cream, and I had birthday-cake flavor.

We lit out at 9 this morning and dropped Mom off a little after 1. We got home around 3, and we're already unpacked and laundered. Tonight: beer, wings, and rasslin.

I'll post trip pics on Facebook later this weekend. Promise.

Wednesday, August 12

Surfing Bird

Your Sister and I surfed today. Compared to your session, she said we faced much heavier waves. It was harder to get to our stationary guide, and we rode back to shore for much longer. The paddle out to the guides was brutal stuff. I was a horrible study during the first batches of surfing. However I picked it up quickly after a short break.

We were out there for three hours, learning the pop-up method with our boards on the sand. Then we paddled a few times to get the hang of it. I was given a skinny board and rolled off constantly. Before I got to crouching on a board at sea, I was beat up and frustrated. Worse, My Mom was watching. Doesn't everyone hate failing in front of mother?

But the hang was gotten (all ten of them), and I managed at least five good surf stands before our time was up. The guide would aim us at the shore, wait for the right wave, yell for us to paddle, and shove us free. Then, usually, we'd hop up and fall off and gobble ocean and limp back to him, growing more tired each time.

It's less than four hours later, and I am beat up. My ribs are bruised from fighting the board with my torso. My arms are jelly. I don't think I'm burned. I'll take that victory. I knew I was hungry after. The cheeseburger at Denny's never had a chance.

The downpours started an hour ago, and the kayak tour was delayed til maybe tomorrow. I'm grateful for the rest. I am all kinds of sore.

Tuesday, August 11


It was a tough day for Mom. It's Dad's birthday, and it hit her hard throughout the day. We tried to help. Nothing seemed as effective as letting her talk it out, and we would interject with a vague affirmation every five minutes or so.

The kayak trip was postponed at the last second by a whopper of a storm. Tomorrow looks the same, and the surf class will probably be a washout. I hope the rescheduled class and kayak tour aren't on the same day; I'd fall apart before collapsing into bed that night.

I'm reading a lot; the new Rolling stone, the latest Esquire (the best monthly magazine in North America), a West Wing script book. I'm not tanning much. I blame Your Sister's SPF Cardigan lotion.

Mom wanted spaghetti, and an Italian restaurant was unearthed, and we ate our weight in various dishes. I type to you as a beached sea creature, painfully drawing breath over my distended belly regions.

Sorry you can't rendezvous with us, but Allah knows you've done your share of traveling lately.
We caught about ten minutes of Star Wars last night before calling it a night. It was the Mos Eisley scene. Wretched hives and jedi mind tricks and Greedo shooting. So you're with us in shiny blue spirit, if nothing else.

Monday, August 10

The Day Flies By

We journeyed to the Ripley's Museum for an hour or so. The pictures I took are too huge for this laptop to allow me to edit, but I'll post them next week. I petted a horseshoe crab. Whoo.

The hotel owns a bar next door that offers free buffet on Monday nights. We availed ourselves. We availed a bit early though and had to kill 90 minutes before the spread was unveiled. That's why we packed our chessboard, and Your Sis and I went head-to-redhead for a surprisingly long game. She's deliberate (read: oh-so-slow) and till withered before a masterful checkmate. Then we gorged on Southern cooking.

I also went head-to-Cromagnon head with the bartender over Mom's drink. She can't have alcohol, and I ordered her a virgin daquiri. The barkeep made a real one. We didn't notice until I checked the receipt and repeated my order. He claims I didn't specify. After some manly growling, we truced our way to the right order. We three called it an early night, and Your Sis and I just returned from walking the night surf.

It was a light day. We're trying not to burn. The plan is to sign up for a surfing class for Wednesday morning at 9 in Myrtle Beach. As Your Sis is planning it, I have no further details. Call her if you can be-bop down.

Mom insisted on buying me 'sand shoes' after watching me empty out my old Converses. And so I am newly shorn. No, wait. Shod. Newly shod. Your Sis says I now look like I'm on a vacation. My Hobbit feet apparently sing with relaxation. And Red Stripe beer.

I'm typing this in front of a desk mirror, and I agree with her: I do look relaxed. Younger even. I look like I'm up to something.

Sunday, August 9

Another Week, Another Town

We arrived in Surfside Beach Saturday around 4. My Mom packs a lot for one person. For three people, too. We barely all fit in the Matrix. The beach is also crammed as folks get in their last vacation time before the SC schools go back in. We assume the hotel will thin out tonight and tomorrow, and already we can see signs of departures. More ocean for us.

This is where Mom and Dad vacationed for almost 20 years. They came here every year, and Mom's is trying to shake the hesitance and enjoy the time. The place is haunted by Dad. They had a routine: eat, beach, eat, walk, sleep. They didn't hit the sights nor did they go tourist. They came here to do very little and enjoy every minute of it. They considered moving here to such an extent that they even priced golf carts, the mode of transportation for the locals. I walked with Mom this evening, and every block had a story of their onetime plans to relocate.

She's handling it well. There's was a moment of despair soon after we arrived, but she collected herself after I joked that we could go back home. She's looked forward to this too much. She's a beach baby from her high-school days, and this is a return to what she was before Dad and her days as Mrs. Dad. It's heady for her.

So we're spoiling her. We take the receipts before she can grab them at meals, and we make her choose the local eateries. She reclaimed her favorite spot under the pier. She introduced us to the hotel staff whom she knows by name. This land is her land, this sand is her sand. We're here to introduce her to short tangents of activities. We're looking at a kayak tour and varying coastal cruises. Your Sister is checking out the surfing classes for me, but we may skip them to give Mom as much downtime as possible. We don't want to overschedule the trip.

As a symptom of how few brains I have, I ran on the morning sand barefoot. Now I'm reunited with my old friends, the sand blisters. It's as bad as the Washington trip. Having survived that, I know I can live through this stupid pain. We also suffered through a Sunday beach serenade by an acoustic performer who changed every song into the slow tempo of American Pie and didn't actually play that song. He also blew out his voice in the first three songs and relied on his back-up musicians to carry the load for the next 90 minutes. Also didn't know the lyrics to all his songs. When you ask people to sing along with the music, it helps if you can join them. I ducked out and hit the water. Your Sister joined me. Together we drank a league of salt water. Cheers.

If I nail down a surf-class date, I'll let you know. Mom would be thrilled to see you on her territory. The weather looks perfect all week, but we're rationing our sun-and-water time to minimize the sunburns. Tomorrow morning, we're going to the aquarium. I hope to have some pics available here later in the day.