Orange Beach, Alabama is one of my favorite places in the world. It has great restaurants, Cobalt, Cosmo’s, Doc’s, and Ginny Lane, to name a few of my favorites, a movie theater perfect for late night movies, which is probably the best way to end any day on vacation, and a beautiful white sandy beach, making it the perfect place for a summer getaway, but one time, about ten years ago, I found myself completely miserable on vacation. I had spent the day out on the beach, alternating playing in the waves and lying in the beach chairs napping in the tranquility of my surroundings. I’d gone to the swimming pool and enjoyed the refreshingly cool water, a nice contrast on the hot summer day. That night we’d enjoyed a great dinner and we were back at the condo, when I realized I had made a huge mistake. Eager to begin my day of fun, I left the condo without putting on any sunscreen, leaving the upper half of my body completely exposed to the intense summer sun.
I was completely red from the waste up, and what began as an itchy sunburn, quickly became an unbearable sensation that I could not stop, no matter what I tried. My skin was crawling, driving me crazy as I tried to put pressure on each place on my back that was begging to be scratched. The only relief I got was standing under the cool shower, but I couldn’t expect to spend the rest of the vacation in the bathroom, and each time I exited the shower, the sunburn started irritating me again before I’d even finished drying off. I tried aloe vera, and I don’t know if I’m allergic to the stuff or what, but that seemed to only irritate the burn more rather than to alleviate it as advertised on the bottle. I retired to the bedroom and tried to sleep, but I was unable to allow myself to be still long enough to drift off, tossing and turning, trying to find a comfortable position where I wouldn’t be incomplete agony. I stood shirtless in the bedroom, slapping my back with a hand towel each time an itch presented itself, Each time I hit my back and relieved one spot, several more spots demanded to be itched immediately.
I don’t know how I finally got to sleep, but eventually I did, and when I woke up the next morning, though I was still as red as the nose of a famous reindeer, I felt better. It was a terrible experience, one I wouldn’t wish upon most people, but at least I came out of it learning an important lesson. No matter what fun lies in the day ahead, it can wait for a couple of minutes while I put on sunscreen. As summer approaches and vacations are planned and taken, my advice to you is to be wiser than I was that day. Put on sunscreen, because no matter how much fun you have on the beach during the day, it won’t be worth it if you spend that night with a sunburn, trying to fall asleep in complete agony.