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Yesterday was a perfect beach day, well for me, anyway. I’m the Goldilocks of being outdoors unlike some of my neighbors who are beach pros. For me, I like it not too hot, not too cold, and no wasps in sight makes it all just right.  The wind was high yesterday coming out of the north, northeast, kicking up high waves and blowing the heat far off the sand. The high, curling rollers kept the lifeguard’s skilled eyes busy.

It was a good day to sit on Samantha’s towel beneath the umbrella her husband held firmly down in the sand mound to keep it from blowing away, watching their son, a new beach pro, fling the world’s best toy with a simple yellow shovel.  She unfolded what was going on in their lives and what the future holds for them. Big changes for everyone, everywhere, it seems.

Change. Water, mirror, child, grass, sand. All subjects I study for a piece that I’m working on that touches on proof of time, but the subject of me still can’t get over some of the things she sees. She slowly adapts to change.  Change means I’ve had to get used to seeing guns worn on belts in public, and dealing with how I feel about that.  I’ve always believed that once you come to the beach and sit down, listen and watch in silence, you will never want to check your watch or social media. Something about the sand, the waves and the breeze, where we come to sit together or miles apart, makes us one somehow. You cannot be the same once the ocean puts her finger on you, but here was a man who wandered the shingle with a revolver on his waist. I cannot understand why.

The first gun I saw in public other than law enforcement was at the laundromat. Just a dude doing his laundry, Glock on hip. Ho hum? It’s not like we live in the elder wild west where anything goes, no sheriff in sight to lay down the law. Norfolk has its hands full, but our neighborhood is kind and stable, and the beach is certainly well patrolled.  The dude washing his laundry was exercising his 2nd amendment right, and I’ve slowly gotten used to it.  But the dude on the beach left me speechless. I wondered if the lifeguards are trained to deal with gun things? I mean, who could feel so insecure and afraid they need to carry a revolver on their hip on the beach? You hate seagulls that much? Or hate people who tease you for wearing white socks and Adidas flops with shorts and a cut off t-shirt, or maybe it was your bandanna you needed to defend? Why in the world, in all the places of the world, did you hang a revolver off your brown leather belt that belonged around a pair of Lee jeans instead of board shorts? What was going through your mind as you prowled the wet sand, staring off into the water like you were looking for some shark we needed to be defended from? I dunno. Maybe it was a drug thing, and I dislike typing that more than you know.

With some conversation and reflection, it appears that many people here on my beach are carrying where I hadn’t had a clue. They’re good, gotta give them credit. But my question remains: Why are you carrying a weapon to the beach? A place where we are all here for the same reason, feeling that same feeling?  There are children on this beach, and I’m not worried about you but I am worried about what seeing a revolver on a hip might mean to them as they grow up. Well, I guess since you’re permitted to carry concealed it won’t bother anyone. Maybe you believe you need to be prepared 24/7 for a personal affront, or you need to be prepared 24/7 in case a neighbor or fellow beach-goer is in dire need of protection before the cops can come?  Is this the world I live in? No. No. And no.

I watched a little guy pushing teeth through his gums laugh while mom held him as the ocean waves pushed and lifted him from behind. I watched a little girl lie on the sand in her floral print dress waiting for the waves to lick her ankles and tickle her feet.  I watched seagulls swoop down on a camp in search of food while the humans were away laughing in pummeling, frothy water. I think of my neighbors who live a quarter mile up the way where there are no lifeguards, and we tend to know each other’s dogs names better than our own.  I don’t want to get used to knowing that we are carrying guns openly or concealed because it makes me feel like we are all too afraid. Afraid of each other, afraid of the unknown. Don’t tell me it’s all about being prepared. There are no cougars or lions or packs of wild dogs coming for us down here on the beach.  What y ou call preparedness is what I call fear.

I believed there could be no fear here on the beach, before our mistresses of water and wind. I am not ready to relinquish that belief, and I believe I will never need to.