I hadn’t had a vacation all summer long, never once had what I consider to be the moment that I truly “arrive” at the beach: walking along the sand, removing my sandals and feeling the water with my toes. That is always the “at last” moment for me, finally exhaling from however many months it has been since the previous time. We went to the beach for a week almost every summer growing up, alternating between North Carolina, Virginia and New Jersey locations, and each house, hotel, and neighborhood stands out with unique and good memories. What is it about the beach? I could never figure it out, but there definitely is some profound connection with it that I know I am not alone in feeling.

So, when Joy, my high school best friend told me she’d be off from doing her doctor thing for a week in September and at her parents’ Virginia Beach beach house, I decided to seize the day (or 5) and join her. I really enjoy driving long distances alone, accomplishing “travel” independently, albeit with a car, an atlas, my hand-written directions and a little fast food in tow. In the same vein, what is it with the open road? Does it really just boil down to feelings of freedom? Hmm.

I found myself on familiar highways and bridges, reminiscing about what brought me here in the past. When I was driving the entire length of Delaware, I remembered convincing my college friend to drive there with me one summer because “Delaware gets a bad wrap, and I’m going to change that. I’m going to explore the wonders of Delaware and sing its praises!” Out of enthusiasm (and a misguided notion that I worked for Delaware’s tourist bureau?) I dragged her to the church with the oldest pulpit in the country–specifically because we could then say we had seen the oldest pulpit in the country, of course–and to “the waterfront,” which sounds scenic in a good way, but was more like a dirty stream surrounded by overgrown vegetation. Well, that’s Delaware for you.

It wasn’t exactly a relaxing vacation in terms of getting rest, but going into it, I knew it wouldn’t be. I still had to do work on my laptop and I didn’t want to catch up on sleep because that would mean fewer conscious hours when I could be hanging out with Joy, walking on the beach, writing and writing on the porch, etc. And, of course, it wouldn’t be an Alicia trip without an Alicia “moment”, stupid story or three, so I had to allow plenty of time to accumulate those. Ready for one?

I went to a gas station with Joy in the car, a Mini Cooper I rented from Zipcar. Zipcar ever so nicely pays for your gas by giving you a gas card that works much like a debit card. When you swipe, the gas station screen usually says “Enter Driver ID number” followed by “Enter Odometer” or something like that. This time around when I swiped, the screen only displayed the word “Driver.” Now, keep in mind that I have used zipcar several times before. I stared at that word for at least a full minute, saying in my head, “um, yeah, I’m the driver. I’m a driver. I drive this car here.” I didn’t “get” it. I got completely caught up in the fact that the screen was addressing me or was it stating a fact? At some point, the light bulb went on and I realized I was supposed to enter my Driver ID number. Those are usually the moments where Joy says completely genuinely, “God Alicia, I love you” and I feel a little less crazy/stupid. Haha.

I decided to include a lot of stories within my Virginia Beach Flickr set, so check that out for a more blow-by-blow rundown. All in all, a great trip!