I remember the cool, cool air blowing from the air conditioner as the car wound through Westchester and Connecticut toward the Long Island Sound. I didn’t need to worry about certain death should the passenger side airbag deploy because it was 1979 and we didn’t worry about seatbelts and airbags then. I was eight-years-old and enjoying the view from the front bench seat of Aunt Rain’s AMC Eagle.

Going to the ocean with Aunt Rain was the highlight of my vacation. Each summer I spent two weeks with my favorite two people in the entire world. My days were filled with the swimming, fairs and fishing, but those beach days were reserved for just Aunt Rain and me. We would float for hours in the salty water of the Long Island Sound at Sherwood Island.

She laid her body back in the water and I thought she would go under, as I would have if I attempted to float. Like magic, her body floated on the gentle waves as she turned her face up to absorb the heat of the sun. The tide was out and crabs scurried beneath our feet. I jumped, buoyed by the water and landed on Rain.  My little body was held up by hers and we laughed about my startled scream and the crab hurrying past my toes. I asked her how she floated so well and watched beads of water roll from her skin.

Our skin glistened with Hawaiian Tropic and my nose was filled with its heady coconut scent. I gingerly laid myself on the blanket, trying my best to keep my greasy skin perfectly clean and free of sand. We pulled sandwiches from the cooler and the Fritos from her canvas LL Bean tote were warm and greasy from the heat of the sun. I alternated licking the salt off the Fritos with sips of shockingly sweet Hawaiian Punch. Aunt Rain read her book and I basked in the sun. Our shared silence was always comfortable.

The ride home was bumpy, sunburned, sleepy and sandy. The lush green landscape of Connecticut flew by my window and lulled me into a sleepy, post-sun state. I looked up at my Aunt Rain, marveled at her beauty and the love she gave before closing my eyes for a cat nap.

Aunt Rain and Kate, January 2011

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