Someplace Glamorous

Beth’s phone was beeping so she checked it. The message made her laugh. “It was your mom,” she said. “Just a ‘haven’t talked to you in a while’ call, but she said we were probably ‘someplace glamorous like Rehoboth.’”

I took the phone so I could return the call. “Mom, we are someplace glamorous,” I told her. “We’re at Taco Bell. We’re at the Taco Bell near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.”

“So, you are going to Rehoboth,” she said. She didn’t remember the exact date of our trip, but she’d known Beth and Noah had gotten me a weekend trip to Rehoboth for Christmas. (Noah was the idea man. Beth was the financier.)

“A weekend at the beach in February!” my stepfather had exclaimed incredulously on Christmas morning when I opened the card that informed me about the trip. I suspected then that he was not really serious about retiring to the beach, although he sometimes talks about it. You don’t move to the beach if you don’t want to be there in February, do you?

The trip was to be somewhat more glamorous than usual. We were staying at the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel (, a pink and white wedding cake of a hotel on the boardwalk, probably the toniest hotel in Rehoboth. I’ve always wanted to stay there. We’ve eaten in the restaurant once or twice and most memorably, I once clambered over several-feet high snowdrifts on the boardwalk to fetch a take-out meal to bring back to Beth and Noah, who were holed up in our room in another hotel. That was Presidents’ Day weekend 2003. Noah was twenty-one months old and we’d been snowed in a couple days. I’d offered to go out and find something to eat besides grilled cheese, which we’d been eating all weekend, and I returned with a fabulous meal. I only remember the first course, a salad with dried cranberries and a sharp cheese (feta maybe?), but I recall digging into our first good meal in days with gusto and I remember the hotel staff’s hospitality. They readily agreed to box up a take-out meal even though they normally only prepare food for the dining room and room service and they invited me to warm up in the steamy spa room.

The inside of the hotel is faux Victorian and festive. They leave the Christmas decorations up all winter. Normally, I do not approve of this decorating choice, but somehow here it works. There’s a Christmas tree still up and lights and garlands of evergreens (fake but a good likeness) hung with angels are strung in the lobby. There are two parrots, one of which is often out of its cage, and men in suspenders and tails are always opening doors for you and offering to help with your luggage.

We had a lovely time. We ordered elaborate desserts from room service. Beth had a massage. Noah spent a lot of time in the pool, demonstrating his new swimming prowess. June loved dashing back and forth between the birdcages exclaiming “A bird! Another bird! Orange bird! Bird drinking water!” You could see the ocean from our room. I spent a lot of time reciting books to June without actually looking at the pages and staring at the ocean instead.

And of course, Noah rode his new scooter on the boardwalk and we played on the beach. June delighted in using a little shovel to fill a pail with sand and then she topped it off with pebbles. I pocketed a pretty mottled one as a memento. Noah and I made castles and villages and laid siege to them. I took a walk by myself, wading in the water in my rubber boots and wishing I’d brought warmer socks.

On Monday morning we went to the realty to pick a house to rent for a week in August. 
When we gave the realtor our requirements and price range three houses came up on her computer. One was quite a long hike to the beach and at the upper end of our price range (it was a pretty big house). Another the realtor said was “not very well kept up” by the owners. And then there was the house where we stayed the summer of 2003, the year Noah was two. We’d gotten snowed in that February weekend five years ago because we’d come to town to look at houses. The realty closed due to the weather and we never got the chance to look at any houses that weekend. We had to come back in the spring. The property is a cozy little house with wood paneling in the living room and a big dormer bedroom on the second floor. Not fancy, but homey and only two blocks from the beach. We decided to take it again without touring it to save ourselves the hassle of going through the house with the kids.

Before we left Rehoboth, we got smoothies at the same café where we broke the news about Santa Clause to Noah two months ago and we had a picnic lunch of all our weekend leftovers. As we munched on cold quesadillas, pineapple pizza, tempura, vegetarian sushi and edamame, the kids chased each other around the boardwalk like maniacs, Noah laughing uproariously and June clutching a pizza crust and chanting, “I run so fast!”

When he came home from school today, Noah showed me the instructions for his latest long-term project. (He has done research projects this year on rocks, Germany and horses.) He has to make a model of a building. The first step was to fill out a survey about three kinds of buildings he would be interested in building. His first choice was a hotel because “me gusta hoteles” (“I like hotels.”) I like them, too and I am grateful to be able to afford the occasional luxury of staying at a swank one. But I am even more grateful for the memory of my kids running and laughing on the boardwalk; for the white, gray and brown spotted pebble now on my chest of drawers; and for the chance to return to the little house a short, toddler-friendly walk from the beach. That, more than fancy desserts and doormen in tails, is real glamour for me.