In 1975 or 6, I went to Florida with my parents, my sister and a bunch of aunts and uncles. I would have been 5- or 6-years-old so my memory of it isn’t clear but I, instead, have a sense of the trip. I remember riding a long way in a hot car, I remember a pink stucco house with scrub and sand in its front yard, and I remember we had to walk to get to the beach. I learned how to shuffle cards on that trip. I may have tasted a beer. My memory is a patchwork of photographs, stories everyone has told about the trip over the years and paintings my sister has done from photos. It’s a good and familiar memory, if that is what it is.
At the end of this week, Team Urf! is taking part in something that is part family vacation, part reality TV show and part social experiment. We are traveling to the Gulf Coast with two other families, all of whom you’ve read about here, to live in a house on the beach for one week. There will be six adults and eight kids, the youngest will be four-weeks-old, the oldest is 9 1/2. At the end of the week we will all either be closer and more of a family or we will not be speaking to each other. There’s just no way to tell.
There will be plenty to keep the kids entertained: building sand castles, surfing, burying each other in the sand, swimming, screaming, crying, jumping, laughing, sleeping?, watching a different TV, drinking juice boxes, asking questions, complaining, searching for the last kid they buried in the sand, playing games, watching Le Tour, counting stars, gambling. As for the parents, well, it will be a week of sitting. Sitting and staring at the water. At least that’s Team Urf!’s way. Kristy and I have spent a lot of time at the beach and we’ve spent most of that time sitting and relaxing. Perhaps reading. Maybe having a drink or two. Is the whole idea insane? Of course it is, but this is our first real vacation in several years and we are giddy with an excitement that is clouding our judgment, which is how we ended up with four kids in the first place.
This trip reminds me of the trip I took with family over 30 years ago. And maybe I don’t have all the facts right. Maybe as many people as I think didn’t go. Maybe we were closer to the beach or that house wasn’t pink. But what I take with me is the memory of spending that much time with family, and I remember the laughter, and that’s what this week will be. It will be great fun and great memory for The Quartet and the other kids, as well as their parents.
Oh, and the house we’re staying in is a duplex, so whoever is on the other side, I’m really sorry, in advance, for … everything.