When you first walk on to the white sandy beaches of Cape May, the first thing you think, besides “oh my gosh, my feet are on fire,” is “where am I going to sit?” You could sit by the water, where it’s cooler and more crowded, or farther back in the sand, with more room to wriggle your toes in the sand but less of a breeze to keep away the intense sun. And then you see it: the red and white lifeguard stand towering in the distance, high above the crowded beach with the perfect view, and still close enough to jump in the water.
Of coarse lifeguards need the view to save lives and all that good stuff, but I think there should be more stands with a view like that for us common beach goers to use. Everyday when the final whistle blows around 5 o’clock and all the lifeguards leave, the kids scramble to the stand in a first attempt to get dibs on it. When I was younger, we all took shifts sitting on the stand to make sure that our spot wasn’t overtaken. It’s a serious business. If you were the one responsible for the loss of the stand because you got distracted and some kid with a bucket ran over and took it, let’s just say you got the cold shoulder while everyone was building sand castles.
Even now, as a soon-to-be freshman in college, I still run for a lifeguard stand every time that I see an open one. Often I go to Stegers beach because it’s right by all of the food, but every once in a while I switch it up and go to Headquarters, where my friend’s dad is a lifeguard. We hover around the stand, asking what certain gestures mean, why blow the whistle this time and not last time, and, of coarse, what stands all the cute lifeguards are at. There’s nothing wrong with pretending I need a little help if I can get some nice arms to carry me out of the water.
At the end of the day when the sun is sinking below the ocean and the humid air starts to cool, the stands are the hardest to get a hold of. But if you can find one, it’s so worth it. There’s just something about sitting high up above the water, looking out at the endless horizon that makes me feel like I’m one with the ocean. There’s water below, sky above, and I’m sitting somewhere in between. The salt air calms my mind and the view from the stand never fails to make me feel at home.