A few days before Fat Tuesday, one of my friends put a call out: weather forecast sunny with temps in the 70s – who wants to go to the beach?
The beach – even the smaller bay side beach – is tough for me to manage with the kids and no help; Sarah Kate’s unsteady on the soft sand, and Nathan is, well…a toddler. ‘Nuff said. But spending an afternoon at the beach with my home girls and their brood? You better believe I was in!
I envisioned a relaxing afternoon, pleasant conversation, snacks of all kinds, and laughter. I planned to take my camera, catching magical moments while the kids ran, played, splashed, and dug in the sand. I would have more than enough lovely images to post for my 365 project, and I might even write a blog post about how delightful our day was.
But then reality hit.
And by reality, I mean Mr. Andi’s appendectomy. So instead of relaxing at home in the morning, making a quick stop at Publix for tasty snacks, and then basking in the glorious sunshine with some of my favorite people, I hauled two kids and their accoutrements to the hospital.
In pre-op, Mr. Andi was calm – like our tomcat before he strikes a woefully outmatched bird (Mr. Andi is not a good patient). When it was time to say goodbye, we gave kisses all around and retreated to the waiting area.
Nathan tired of watching Baby Signing Time on my phone quickly, pitching it halfway across the room. Shortly thereafter, I found myself cleaning The Incredible Exploding Poo in the bathroom with no wipes.
Once we’d been notified by the doctor that everything looked good and Mr. Andi would be moving to a room shortly, I texted a friend and asked her if I could drop Sarah Kate at the beach with her, and off we went.
Nathan and I returned to the hospital; Mr. Andi appeared in the room a few minutes later. I wrestled
the wild animal Nathan for as long as I could stand it, finding irony in the fact that I was now photographing Nathan under Mr. Andi’s hospital bed rather than on the beach, then left again to pick up Sarah Kate. This time, I took both Nathan and my camera out of the car, determined to snap at least a few photos.
The scene was less than idyllic.
I couldn’t let Nathan get wet because he wasn’t dressed for it and we were headed right back to the hospital. The cycle of his crab-crawling toward the water, my catching him at the last minute, and him pouting at my inhumanity repeated itself several times.
The beach itself was also an obstacle to great portraiture: every frame contained an old pack of cigarettes, a fluorescent green frisbee, or some other offensive item that would need to be cloned out in post-processing. But mostly the frisbee. It was in every shot, even though I was constantly on the move. I swear that thing was following me.
We raced back to the hospital, to Sonic for a bite of dinner, to softball practice, and finally back to the hospital for our good nights.
It was real life on the gulf coast. No unicorns in sight.