Suzi Foltz: Out of the nest, and onto the beach

Thousands of short stories, novels, TV series and movies include coming-of-age stories. A young boy must fill his father’s shoes and take care of the family, a young girl moves away from home and must make it on her own, a warrior must go off and kill something yadda yadda yadda. It’s the idea of a literal event being symbolic to a young person as they grow older; showing change, achievement, and independence. An event that takes place every year and serves as the “leaving of the nest” for the residents of Augusta County is Beach Week.

Some of you are probably thinking, Oh, she has it wrong, it’s graduation. And yes, as an honor student, I agree that graduation is a tremendous achievement, but it’s not what I’m referring to. Graduation is recognition of what you have done; the handing of the tools, the dubbing with a sword, the “follow the yellow brick road” of life, but Beach Week is the let loose, unsupervised, “no hands!” moment in life for teenagers.

In this area, everyone and their hairdresser has a story. Literally. Last year when I was getting my hair done for prom, the hairdresser told a story of her Beach Week; one that included coming up with money for bail for two members of their party. My sister’s Beach Week ended with a few members coming home with some extra ink on their skin. I don’t think that the group I have planned my Beach Week will have that intense of a week, but I am curious what thoughts are running through my mother’s mind.

While looking online for a house, my best friend and I came across a note from a beach-goer’s mom that had fallen out of their bag and had been put up online. It was a list of things not to do at Beach Week, which we read through with my mom. Please do not drink, please do not do drugs, please do not have sex, please do not drink and drive, please do not do drugs and drive, please do not have sex and drive, please do not ride with anyone who has been doing any of these things, please do not eat beef or caffeine, please do not get pierced or tattooed, please have a lovely weekend; just be careful. Geez, moms kill all the fun. … Actually, after reading this, my mom laughed, told me she’d be okay with me doing three of these (she did not specify which three), and then went off to make pancakes.

To anyone reading this who does not know my mother, you are probably thinking she is a bit strange, but I know she worries about me. She is not immune to the stereotypically beach happenings of “Jersey Shore” and about half of teen movies. I am the youngest of four, and a female, so there are lots of possible negative outcomes, but she has level of trust with me because of the way I have behaved throughout my underaged years. She knows that I will be going off to college next year, where anything could happen pretty much any night. Also, she has met everyone I am going with, a fairly respectable group of kids (who might be reading this article; love you guys!), and feels that whatever happens we will do it with a level of dignity and safety.

Our plans are well underway. The beach and week have been selected, we have registered with a beach house company, and the first of three payments has been sent in. It might not be ideal; we will be sleeping on bunk beds and futons, and it will be six teenage girls and two teenage guys sharing one bathroom, but it works for us.

At least for me, it will be my first trip “on my own.” I’ve always had my parents, a teacher, an adviser, or at least my sister with me when I traveled. It will be an interesting experience, but one that I am definitely looking forward to. Now all I have to do is wait four months.

Suzi Foltz is a senior at Wilson Memorial High School.

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