According to Arlene – Back to the Beach

According to Arlene – Back to the Beach

By Arlene Caplan Appelrouth |

My cousin’s son, an Atlanta patent attorney, owns a beach house on Amelia Island in Fernandina Beach. It’s a rental property that stays occupied most of the time.

For unknown reasons, it was available for the last week of 2015, and Miles offered use of the property to his mother, her husband and their 3-month-old Labradoodle, Gigi.

I got an email from Janet us to join them. I love the ocean and often long to spend time swimming, scuba diving or just gazing at its grandeur.

Dan and I didn’t have anything special planned for that week, so we went.

We intended to leave early in the morning, so on the day we drove the 375 miles we would be able to enjoy the ocean. Intentions don’t always turn into realities. It was close to 6 p.m. by the time we got into my car.

I knew that wouldn’t be a problem for my cousin Bob. He rarely goes to sleep before

1 a.m. We had the address on Ocean Road, but when we got there, that address didn’t exist.

I’ll call Bob, I told Dan, but there wasn’t an answer to his cellphone. I didn’t have the phone number of the house line and didn’t know what to do. I left a message.

Most of the houses on the street were dark, except for one where you could see a woman in what looked like a living room.

“Why don’t you knock on the door and ask if she knows which house belongs to Miles?” I said to Dan.

Dan didn’t want to knock on a stranger’s door after midnight. I understood his reluctance, but it was the only way to find out where Miles’ house was.

I got out of the car, walked on the sandy path to the house and climbed up five steps to the front porch. Luckily, the windows were open. I called out to the woman, who opened the door without hesitating. She was dressed in a red nightie, and I was glad it was me, rather than Dan, who was going to ask for directions.

She told us that she didn’t know Miles but that 123 was farther south on the same street.

Arlene spends some time with 3-month-old Gigi.
Arlene spends some time with 3-month-old Gigi.

We drove the few blocks and could not find 123. Actually, most of the houses didn’t even have visible numbers, but we were fairly certain there was no 123 Ocean Road.

I called Bob’s cellphone again. Still no answer. I tried his wife Janet’s cellphone. My call went straight to voice mail.

We drove up and down Ocean Road, looking for Bob’s car. No luck.

It was 12:30 in the morning, and we were tired.

“Why don’t we sleep on the beach?” I said to my husband of almost 45 years.

There was no way he would consider that solution to our problem.

My mind flashed back to when Dan wasn’t in my life.

When I graduated from the University of Florida, with a degree in news-editorial journalism, I continued working as a reporter for The Gainesville Sun. I had worked full time writing for them while completing my degree. My plan was to work as an investigative reporter, but the editor needed someone to do soft news.

I stayed on, but after a few months I decided to do something different. I had always wanted to travel but never had the opportunity. I had about $1,200 saved and booked a one-way trip on a ship from New York to Genoa, Italy.

My mother told me that Jewish girls didn’t run around the world by themselves.

“Please wait until you marry and go to Europe on your honeymoon” was her advice.

“Mom,” I said, “who knows if I’ll ever get married? But even if I do, how do I know the man I marry will even want to go to Europe?”

My parents drove me from Gainesville to New York, the whole trip trying to dissuade me.

I traveled through Europe and decided to check out Israel. After three or four months working on a kibbutz, Ein Hashofet, I wanted to be on the sea. Most people go to Tel Aviv for a few days on the beach, but I’m a scuba diver and headed south to Eilat, which in 1969 had few hotels.

But there was a community of young people like me camping out on the beach. I bought a sleeping bag and joined the group.

Fast-forward to the last week of 2015.

I had slept on the beach once and was willing to do it again, even though I didn’t have a sleeping bag.

Dan reiterated he had no interest.

“What about me?” he asked.

“You can sleep in the car if you like,” I said, thinking that solution was evident.

We continued driving up and down Ocean Road. We turned down a street and saw a tall man waving his long arms.

My cousin Bob is 6-foot-3. I thought it might be him on the porch.

It was. He had listened to my message on his cellphone and went outside looking for us.

We were relieved.

The time on the beach was a perfect way to end 2015 and begin 2016.

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