This is the 20th year Annemarie and I have taken a summer beach day. We began as new drivers with a map highlighted by her mother and a warning about couches along the freeway that might have fallen off of trucks (of all things!). There was the summer we found fields of sunflowers and jumped from the car to take pictures (we have never found them again). There was the summer we didn't like each other much and met up for an hour or two to take a picture and say we went. There were college summers and the summer we were engaged; the summer we were both married; the summer Annemarie was pregnant and about to alter everything we knew about life. There was the summer I was platinum blond; the nine summers one or both of us was pregnant or pumping. There was the summer I moved to DC, and the summer we both lived here.
Though some years we don't even touch the sand and some years we swim in the ocean, what we always do on our day is go to the old tired photo booth. Each year we hold our breaths as we peek into the arcade, and each year the booth's still standing, and we feed our dollars in. The quality steadily worsens and occasionally a man has swung the front open and is tinkering with the mechanics, but it always manages to spit out our faces and makes us laugh. This year the our machine was gone. We pummeled the 15 year old boy working at the desk with questions about why and when and WHY? And then we walked back outside. The sad truth is that now we have photo booth apps that can our pictures all day long and mail them to our houses. But that, of course, is not the same as the wet smelly photo paper that dropped into the slot as the drying fan kicked on, the streaks from the quick developing, and how we were never quite ready for the first shot. Apps don't have the squeaky stool we spun until our eyes lined up with the little arrows or navy polyester curtains we could pull across for background.
This is our first non-booth strip, and we are grieving in the first picture. Try not to enjoy the crispness of our faces nor the dune grass in the background; we are missing the booth.