I grew up on this beach, in Milford, Connecticut. More accurately, my grandparents owned a cottage there, and my mother and sister and I would make the 20-minute trip from Stratford each summer morning, and stay for the day.
If we were really good, and pestered our grandparents just the right amount, they’d let us SLEEP OVER. The Sleepover was the funnest of the fun, and often involved not sleeping at all, but instead peeking through the slats of the guest room door at episodes of M*A*S*H or Taxi or whatever other “mature programming” our grandparents happened to be watching.
The neighborhood of the beach was populated with unique characters. A big white house right on the beach was inhabited by the Chichester Sisters, three spinsters who could be seen going for a swim together each day in their old-fashioned bathing suits and caps. There was Jaya, a big woman with a kind face who taught me how to float and hold my breath underwater. Mrs. Imbimbo, who sat on the beach all day, slathered in baby oil, drinking from a sweaty can of Tab cola while her big, black Labradors ran up and down the shore. Mr. Stüller, a little bespectacled man who fixed watches and clocks. Miss Virginia, the esteemed ballet teacher who lived next door to my grandparents. Janet, a woman who was deathly afraid of bees, and had a teenage daughter named Lenore who took me under her wing and enjoyed playing me her Peter Frampton albums. My great-Aunt Dorothy and great-Uncle Gorzy, who lived across the street; from my grandparents’ cottage window, we could see them stick an American flag in the mailbox next to their front door when they wanted us to come over for coffee.
And those were just a few. The cottage and the quaint neighborhood and most of its inhabitants are gone now, though I feel blessed that I was able to spend time there with them, at least for a while. The memory of it all inspires me to create other havens like this in my own stories. Not just for my readers, but for myself.