King of The Beach
Something happened today. A picture was posted on Facebook of those who got Baptized at the New Life Beach Retreat and I only knew one person. I hadn’t even seen any of the others before. Wait, I was only there a year ago. I only left the church 3 months ago, yet I recognized only one person.
I’ve been thinking a lot of Emerald Isle the past week, of the times I had there, of the people I spent those times with, and what it all meant.
The question of what something “meant” to us is a very subjective question, and one that we often don’t know until far down the road of the current future. That is, if you judge what the Beach meant to me in terms of life-turning points, then it doesn’t mean a lot right now. Sure, it holds a lot of great memories with friends, but I have a lot of great memories with my friends apart from the beach. Sure, I got Baptized and there were a lot of spiritual turning points during my 3 trips to the Beach, but I’m Agnostic now. That definition of myself helps parse out those memories currently, but if I change that definition in the future, that changes what those memories mean to me. Maybe it meant nothing but fun times during college.
Yet, that somehow doesn’t give justice to it. I still felt the call of the beach, and still think of it often in various trains of thoughts and contexts.
I didn’t go this year for several reasons. For one, I’m kind of Agnostic now, and it’s a Christian retreat. Also, for as good a deal the retreat was, it would have cost me a couple hundred to go, plus the few hundred I would have lost in not working. I’m an adult not going to college, and the Beach just wasn’t anywhere near my financial priorities. Also, sometime in the spring or summer I realized I wasn’t good friends with anybody currently attending the church. Sure, some go who don’t really know anybody, but it’s really mandatory to me since you’re spending so much time confined with these people that you have at least one really good friend to talk to. My best friends were here and elsewhere. Everybody I went with last year moved. Which brings me to…
Damn it, I still haven’t fully figured out the impact of what She meant to me, but when figuring out what the Beach meant to me, it’s impossible to talk about without at least mentioning Her. She was there all the years I went, and last year I rode the long drive there and back sitting next to Her, and I spent most of that retreat thinking about Her. Damn it. All the relational drama of that last trip is coming back. While my memories of the first two trips are great, the one last year is more mixed because of that mostly still-unresolved drama in my mind.
What did happen during my life while the retreat was happening on the other side of the state also may have something to do with all this. While the weekend was relatively light on customers a lot of personal drama came up, and it got very ugly. My weekend manager is, excuse the language, a fucking dumbass and abusive prick. Maybe it was because he declared it “Let’s Beat The Shit Out of Jeremy Week,” or because I just wasn’t in the frame of mind to deal with him, but I lost it mentally. Out of frustration I punched inanimate objects a lot, I yelled a lot, and banged my head repeatedly against a fry sorter.
Also, I tried to carve my name into my arm. I say tried because towards the end I realized what a cliche carving your name into your arm is for extremely depressed people. Secondly, my immortality/healing factor kicked in and what looked quite ugly at the time didn’t leave any scarring, but rather was completely gone a couple hours later. I’m still trying to figure out what I should do about that manager, and his constant verbal harassment and physical abuse of constantly hitting/punching/slapping me. Point is, I could have avoided all it by going to the Beach.
Which brings me to what the Beach is supposed to do, which is make you confront your life in the comfort of friends. Granted, life ended up confronting me, and it was a help as always to do it while talking to friends in-between confrontations, but away from the ocean air it just felt ugly.
But maybe there’s something deeper to that. Every time somebody returns from the Beach it’s compared to the feeling of returning to real life. So while you were at the Beach, you were confronting life, but you were doing it in a “safe” environment A different reality. When you confront life in the real world, it’s ugly and painful. But confronting your life on the Beach is easier. Which is nice, but not sustainable.
You could say that by that train of thinking that the changes, or confrontation of life at the Beach means less, or nothing at all. Few if any are able to bring any real change from the Beach to reality. So maybe the Beach does mean nothing but fun after all Sure, the point of what the retreat is kind of meant to do is pretty much lost in this line of thinking, but so goes the subjectivity of meaning again.
Or maybe the point of the call of the Beach is to get you to think. Remember the good times, but think about things differently. Or, something like that.
By the way, besides naming relevance, the following song/video is one that came out a couple months before my first retreat, and is one that I’ve posted on Facebook prior to me leaving for each one. Ascribe whatever meaning you may to that.