When the weather gets warmer, there's only one thing on your mind — the beach. Memorial Day is the official kick-off to beach season, and while you might not realize it, your life changes with just a little bit of sun. All of a sudden you're weirdly optimistic, you're dead set on taking a few days off of work, and you openly embrace the crop of freckles that appear on the bridge of your nose. Beach season is the perfect excuse to drop your worries and remember that, even if you've had a less than ideal 2015 thus far, everything will be OK.
When I was a kid, my parents took us to Wildwood Crest every August for a glorious week of vacation. My sister and I didn't embrace any kind of Jersey Shore mentality — we were just ecstatic that our motel had a pool with a waterslide. Those who have been to Wildwood are familiar with the long stretch of sand before you actually hit the ocean, and while it's no fun to drag heavy beach chairs a mile in, it was a trek that, to me, symbolized summer. Even when the sun burned our feet, it was more like a battle wound on a worthwhile journey to sand, salt, seaweed, and seagulls.
Our beach trips stopped about 12 years ago, but the instinct is still within me. Whenever I feel the sun on my skin, I long for the ocean and crave lobster bisque from a particular restaurant that my dad hated yet tolerated for the sake of family togetherness.
Here are a few other signs that you're getting amped up for the joy that is beach season.
1. Flip flops become your go-to shoe
Wearing flip flops in the fall is such a lazy girl move. Internally, you push yourself to put on real shoes, even if you're only going to the convenience store around the corner. However, you stock up with a few pairs from Old Navy the second summer hits, since you can't help but long for overexposed feet and a blister next to your big toe. Flip flops are the "things are happening now" shoe, and at the beach, things are definitely happening.
2. Styled hair? No thanks.
The only hot tool you'll need is a curling wand, if that, for beachy waves. It makes no sense to spend hours on hairstyling when you'll just be dunking your head in salt water. You're all about the casual and stress-free updos during beach season. Messy bun? Sure, why not?
3. SPF becomes your best friend
You should be wearing sunscreen throughout the year, but there's definitely a push to slosh some on your skin when the weather gets warm. Unlike winter, you're highly susceptible to burns, which can definitely put a damper on your vacation plans. You make sure that your purse always includes a bottle, and you're definitely careful to re-apply during the day.
4. Stress from that terrible project at work goes out the window
From Monday to Friday, all you can focus on are deadlines. You lose sleep thinking about getting negative remarks back from your boss, and check your e-mail notifications at 1 a.m. to make sure you're on top of your assignments. However, all of this changes the second you stop bringing a cardigan to the office. Summer is the official season for taking a break, and all you can think about is taking a long overdue nap in the gritty sand.
5. Quarters are saved for skeeball, not laundry
You have a jar of change by the front door, but unlike other seasons, your quarters aren't destined to find a home in a coin-operated washer at the laundromat. You can't help but love playing a few rounds of Skeeball at the boardwalk arcade, even though you seriously have no use for the bouncy balls and finger traps that your tickets will get you.
6. Your diet consists of boardwalk food and barbecue
You're taking a Ross and Rachel-style break from My Fitness Pal for a week, since you're just not in the mood to be lectured about your daily sodium intake. The beach automatically makes you crave funnel cake, boardwalk fries, and soft serve ice cream. Feel free to indulge — I mean, you're on vacation.
7. Your Facebook cover photo morphs into a picture of personalized sand
I mean, it's the perfect shot! Your boyfriend wrote "Lauren and Doug" in a lopsided heart in the sand, and it's just super romantic and beautiful and worth sharing with your 576 Facebook acquaintances. People have to "like" it, right? It's the beach! When fall hits, it'll revert back to that funny shot of your dog sleeping, since it's just more seasonally appropriate.
8. You find yourself buying a lot of weird garbage
You are pretty much on top of your bills throughout the whole year. You buy what you need, not what you want. But... how can you pass up a personalized bottle opener with a crab on it? You open bottles a lot, and now people will know that bottle opener belongs to you. Since you're having such a good time, why not buy an Ocean City, Maryland car decal? It's super important for other cars to know where you've been, and hey — it's just like, five bucks. It's a souvenir that'll last a year or two before your car breaks down.
And hey, do people still send each other postcards? Since they're three for a dollar, and surely you can find three people who'd like to hear about your beach trip three days after arriving back home.
9. Your "must read" list gets a lot shorter
You love reading, but never find the time to enjoy a good book anymore. While laying out on the beach, you manage to read through three C-List celebrity autobiographies, and suddenly feel a really close connection to Jodie Sweetin. Maybe when you're back home, you'll recommend UnSweetined to all of your friends who worried about the middle Tanner's meth addiction.
10. Traffic becomes a way of life
Traffic on the way to work is a stressful bummer. Traffic on the way to the beach is just how beach travel is supposed to be. With your windows rolled down and your air conditioner on (and your mom in the passenger seat yelling at you to choose one or the other, since you're air conditioning the outside), you feel oddly peaceful while trekking along at two miles per hour.