In My Ohio

​On the Mythology of Saltwater in a Man's Beard

(www.shop.saltybeards.com)
Darren C. Demaree
​I’m headed to the beach. While on the beach I will, of course, fight the ocean as I always do. When I am done with the ocean or it is done with me, I will emerge tired and covered in what are mostly bits of seashell, silt, and I assume I will be dragging a monster squid behind me.
 
That is what it feels like to leave the ocean on vacation with a proper vacation beard. I always have a beard, but on vacation I leave the trimmer at home, and really let that thing unfurl. It’s Samsonesque. My vacation beard allows me to carry two children over hot sand without feeling pain. My vacation beard allows me to eat all of the time. My vacation beard helps me nap like an exhausted child. My vacation beard empowers me to make cinnamon pancakes for upwards of eight to nine people.
 
Most importantly my vacation beard functions like blinders on a racehorse. I always write like a madman before I leave, so I have almost no work to do while I’m down there. I still workout every day, but instead of using the elliptical in the unfinished part of my basement after I lift, I ride a bicycle all over Amelia Island. Technically, thanks to some business zoning, I ride all the way to Jacksonville and back. The sunnier it is the faster I ride. I might check my email each day, but beyond that my vacation beard allows for me to leave everything that fills my days in Ohio, back in Ohio.
 
Ultimately, it’s a small thing, to shave less than I already do; however, I have trouble going on vacation. I write every day. I work out every day. AltOhio. Ovenbird. Best of The Net. CookBook. Adventures with the kids. Housework. Teaching classes at night. My routine is impregnable. Allowing my beard to go unchecked, dunking it in the ocean a few times, and showering rarely loosens up my shoulders enough to enjoy something other than my normal, lovely burdens.
 
My vacation beard allows me to be a vacation dad. I will build sandcastles for hours with that thing. I will make the best paella you’ve ever eaten, spend the six hours it takes to do it right, and not worry one second that I owe an editor a revised biography for some poems they’ve accepted.
 
So, next week and a week after that I will have my shirt off the whole time and my beard will get long enough to have its’ own opinions on which donuts to eat on Donut Friday. I will forget about my second and third loves, Ohio and poetry, for ten days. I will be a devotee to the each round of my ocean fights. I will be ecstatic for each of those days. If you end up seeing any pictures of me from this trip you will see the actual joy written in the length of my beard.