In Which Our Heroine Hits the Beach

The beach, for those wondering, hits back.

Most people, on living 10 minutes away from the beach for the first time in their lives, would want to go and dip a toe in on the first day. No, I have to go and dip two pots, two lids, one frying pan, one tea kettle and four knives.

My cookware, which was ordered on Amazon, made its appearance this morning, after not being delivered on Saturday because no one was around to answer the door. (This was Amazon’s fault for being too prompt – my packages showed up before I did). This was great, because it meant I could start cooking, just as soon as I’d taken care of a few pesky details – like ritually immersing the metal things in a body of water large enough. For those wondering, the Pacific Ocean qualifies and it’s the closest.

So that was my Monday afternoon activity. I even thought things out (marginally) before embarking on this quest. I changed out of jeans and into a skirt, on the theory that the former were far less pleasant when wet. I should note, I wasn’t planning on getting anything higher up than my ankles wet, but I wanted to take precautions (and it’s a good thing I did, the bottom of the skirt has finally dried, about four hours later). I also put on flip flops–another part of my foresight.

So there I was, heading off towards the beach in a jean skirt, flip flops, a sweater, headscarf and a backpack half my size that was clanking like an army of tinkers had just moved in and set up shop. I should mention, by the way, that I didn’t actually know where I was going. I mean, I had the basics down – walk west until you get wet – but I wasn’t sure which roads would actually go to the beach rather than just dead end into a frat house (and one cannot tovel* anything in beer). But I got lucky. I was on one of the main streets in my little University neighborhood and, when it ended, there was a path down to the ocean.

I set off gamely down the path, nearly went sliding down a very steep hill (the downside of flip flops is their complete and utter lack of traction) and cautiously picked my way down. Next came the wooden stairs, then the last few stone steps and I was on the beach. I paused at the landing between the wooden and stone steps and set my bag and myself down. I had forgotten just how big the ocean is. It’s big. It’s also an ugly sort of brownish green reminiscent of bad interior decorating, but that was because there was one giant cloud in the entire sky and I was under it.

So I decided to be prudent and leave my bag on the stone landing and take each piece down one by one, which was surprisingly sensible for me. The frying pan went first, then the small pot and its lid. Then I got complacent, just in time for me to be immersing the larger pot’s lid. Now, for those of you who don’t know/remember, the way one dunks something in a mikvah* requires that every metal part of the object is immersed completely and simultaneously. That means letting go. Letting go in a regular mikvah is fine, just try not to drop any goblets. Letting go of something in the Pacific Ocean is a whole nother kettle of fish.

A stupid wave came along and washed the lid right out of my held-kinda-open hands. But it washed it towards the shore, so I ran after it, missed, ran after it again in the opposite direction as the undertow grabbed hold of it and finally snagged it right before the next wave hit and soaked me halfway up my thigh.

So, pot lid was rescued, pot was dutifully (and far more carefully) immersed and everything else (the kettle and knives) had this useful plastic handle that I could hold on to. Of course, first I had to get the knives out of their packaging. I had left them in the cardboard and plastic packaging they had come in for easier transportation – I was trying to avoid getting cut, you see. Most of you can figure out what happened next.

Yep, I cut myself on the edge of the plastic.

But then I was done. I could repack everything in my bag and take it back to my apartment and wash it thoroughly and then I could return to being a real person who can cook. But first, I had to get all the knives back in to the plastic and repack my clattering knapsack and, as I did so, the rings on my left hand went flying off my finger.

Yes, that left hand. Yes, those rings.

For reasons unknown, my body had decided that my fingers would be a great place to lose weight from, so they are thinner than they were two years ago. And it was cold and my hands were wet and my hand was moving and they just darted off.

I hooked one of them midair, while the other one fell behind the railing and, to all appearances, under the deck.

So the first thing I did was check which one I had. It was my engagement ring – which was good, because it meant that the worst case scenario hadn’t happened (Yes, it’s insured. No, that’s not the point). The second thing I did was climb back down to the beach, which wasn’t so much a beach anymore because the waves were coming up higher and hitting the bottom step. I went around the side, clambered over the rocks, and looked down to see my wedding ring sitting nice and pretty on a pile of seaweed, just out of sight from the stairs and not under anything at all.

I put it back on my hand, told it sharply to “stay” and began the long walk home.

~~~

On the bright side, I’ve discovered the supermarket for grown-ups in this little undergraduate community (by which I mean the produce section is larger than the cheap beer section. No, this was not true of the place I had been to yesterday). Not only that, it seems that expensive organic stuff with kosher symbols are more ubiquitous than anything else. I have Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin bread for breakfast! This is exciting, in case the exclamation point doesn’t give that away. I now also have both the tools and ingredients for thai peanut stir fry and so, if you don’t mind, I’m going to head off and take care of that dinner thing.

~~~

*tovel – ritually immerse

*mikvah – body of water in which something is ritually immersed. There are certain requirements that dictate what constitutes a mikvah, which is why I didn’t just do all this in the pool right outside my window.

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About

I'm a doctoral student in English Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My interests lie in the field known very broadly as the Digital Humanities and I focus on reading digital books (what happens to books as they become not merely digitized, but digital) and reading books digitally (how can we use computers to learn new things about literature). In what spare time I have, I read speculative fiction, transform long strings of yarn into apparel and decor and play with my friends' dogs while eagerly awaiting the day when we move to an apartment complex that will allow us to have one.

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9 comments on “In Which Our Heroine Hits the Beach
  1. Naomi says:

    ohmygosh, i gasped out loud when i read the part where you lost your ring!! so glad you found it.
    next time you go to the beach, leave the pots and pans at home and bring a trashy novel instead.
    hope you’re enjoying cali!

    • Rachel says:

      Better yet, she should leave the rings at home – or is that just asking for an entirely different kind of trouble?

      • Wear them on a chain around your neck, is the answer I think we’re looking for.

        Wait, why bring a novel?–you can read any old boring place. I thought going to the beach was about being encompassed by the majesty of the ocean?

  2. +1 on the trashy novels idea.

    Also, tovel in a mesh bag next time! That was the only way to hit the Schuylkill (I had to Google that to find the missing L!) without sacrificing a spoon to the heathen gods.

  3. H.anna says:

    I forgot you’re a good writer. Yes, that is a compliment, high school was just a long time ago.
    I too gasped when you lost your rings- although wouldn’t that have been ironic if they were lost your very first day!

  4. Erachet says:

    Yay! You have a blog! Hmmm, I should update my blog…

    Reading about your toveling at the beach made me smile. I can’t wait to read more California adventures!

    Also, lucky about your rings. I would have been freaking out.

  5. Yael Shayne says:

    Ahhh! Shayne wedding rings under a wooden deck. Yes, well, these things happen. Glad your eagle eyes located them. Maybe it is time to get the resized? Did I miss how long a walk it was to the beach from your apartment? 10 minutes, 20 minutes? Also, why doesn’t the ipad support epub books? I can’t download library books to the ipad. So sad. But, happy to read y our blog!

  6. Reuven says:

    On Ezekiel bread, Dena likes to point out to me that people seem to stop at 4:9, and neglect to read 4:12. You still want Ezekiel bread? 🙂

  7. SO YOU HAVE LEARNED THAT MAMA PACIFIC IS NOT A TAME OCEAN LIKE THE ATLANTIC. XD (I mean oh SURE, the Atlantic batters the east coast with storms all the time, but I have never seen the sheer majesty and power that Mama Pacific just throws around, from the Atlantic).

    I’m glad you didn’t try and find a ‘river’, because I showed Jack the LA and Santa Ana ‘rivers’ and he was horrified.

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