When I was nearly 13, my mom let me go to the pool with my friend Pam – and no chaperone. I was pumped. Going to the pool without an adult meant I was officially an adult. She lectured me about being on the look out for creepy older men and about putting on sunscreen EVERYWHERE and I was all “fuck that, I’m getting a tan,” and as I packed my backpack with a comic book and a towel and my rainbow striped hat and 2 boxes of Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, I purposely didn’t bring the sunscreen. My friend Pam was Italian and naturally bronze and I wanted to look just like her.
Thirteen year old Audrey wasn’t aware of just how much Scandinavian blood flowed through her veins, because what happened is my blue-pale skin fried in the sun. I had the best time being young, wild, and free (or as young, wild, and free you can be at military community pool during summer vacation), but when I came home, I was lobster red from eyebrows to toe nails. I spent the next month a) grounded and b) painting myself in aloe vera.
I wish I could say I learned from that day and always wore sunscreen from then on. But, it’s me we’re talking about, and sunscreen is sticky and smelly. And I looked like an idiot putting it on – so I got a few more burns over the years. But none were nearly as bad as that one time. And somewhere in my mid-20’s I just gave up on the idea of being tan altogether and stayed indoors.
Living in Australia has only re-enforced my belief in sunscreen. Back in 2012 when I was visiting, I had a day to myself and decided to walk 20 mins to one the outdoor flea markets. My friend Odie warned me to put on sunscreen and even left some on the kitchen counter for me. I was all “fuck that, I’ll only be gone for like, an hour.” I looked at the sunscreen, but didn’t put any on. I came back with a perfect sun burnt outline on my chest and shoulders of the dress I was wearing.
At which point, I was all why am I like this?
So from that day on, I stopped ignoring sun advice. I’ve worn sunscreen any day that I’ll be out in the sun for more than 5 minutes. And Joel is always the first to remind me to put on more. UV rays here don’t play.
All this to say, yesterday, I went to the beach. The beach! For the first time in a year! Macmaster’s Beach on the Central Coast! A dog beach! It was a blast.
And I got the second worst sunburn of my life. /womp womp
It wasn’t like I went all 13 again. I was good, and under recommendation of the Skin Cancer Advisory Board, aka Joel, I put sunscreen on before I even left the house. I re-applied 2 hours later when we got to the beach. What I didn’t do, however, is re-apply it after I got out of the water. Well… like, I was wet and sandy. And I wanted to dry off first. And everything was so sandy and sticky already. So I sat half-way in the sun dome tent (aka easily blown over in slight breeze and impossible to sit in during gusty beach winds UV ray reflecting biggest waste of $15 I’ve spent) and waited to air dry. Then I got distracted. And a while later, when I felt the tops of my feet tingle, I thought “whoa, better put some sunscreen on!” But it was kinda like buttering burnt toast – useless.
I knew it was bad, but when I got home and showered (OUCH) I really got to inspect the damage: the front of my thighs, the tops of my feet, the tops of my arms and hands, and tie-dyed looking splotches on my back and the back of my arms are all scorched. It hurts to walk, it hurts to wear pants, socks are impossible, and taking a shower is extra painful, and I thought I was going to catch on fire when the sun touched me. It’s lovely. And it’s without a doubt one of the dumbest moments of my life.
However – even with the killer burn, I had the best time yesterday. My friend Casey invited me on a mini-road trip with her and her boyfriend and their dog, Mae. The gang showed up with take away coffees, we loaded up, and away we went. It was the first time I’d been up the coast, and I got to see some good scenery along the way. The water was warm and the weather was perfect – apart from the extra hot, searing sun.
So – a day of friends, playing in the water, reading on the beach, stopping Mae from destroying all the surf boards, eating snacks, and solid hang times. When I got home, after showering and drowning in aloe and ibuprofen, I made the world’s best taco salad, smothered myself in aloe again, and fell fast asleep.
This morning, I woke up in flames. Was it worth it?
Also, my Need for Dog has now increased 10 fold after hanging out with Sweet Mae. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to base myself with coconut oil and go stick to something.