I took Mr. Mary Kay to the airport at 5pm, and now, here I am, snug in my Mermaid Cottage for the week, on Sunday night. Usually, Sunday nights mean we are driving home, already fretting about the week’s work ahead of us. But this week, I get to stay at the beach on Sunday night. Coming back to Tybee, I passed a long line of cars heading off the island. But I was headed the other way. The cottage I am staying at is called Nowhere To Go, and it’s charming, as all the Mermaid Cottages always are. It’s bigger than most, with four bedrooms, a huge living room and dining room, four bedrooms and two baths. I went out on the deck to enjoy the relative cool of the evening, and peeked through the grove of palm trees in the backyard. Then I walked over to the Tybee Market and bought my groceries for dinner. Yes, I had my ritualistic spaghetti. I don’t know why I have to have spaghetti when I go away to write, except that maybe it’s because spaghetti is a no-brainer–open a jar of sauce, boil some pasta, and you have dinner. As I was driving back along the beach today, it reminded me of Sunday nights when I was a little girl. My mother worked as a waitress at a steakhouse when I was very young, and she frequently worked Sunday nights. This was Florida in the 1950s and early ’60s. We had no air conditioning, and with Mom at work, my Dad’s solution to dealing with five hot, cranky kids was to load us up into the family sedan and take us out to Pass-A-Grille Beach in the early evening, when the crowds had thinned out and the heat wasn’t as intense. Sometimes we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a thermos of Kool-Aid for dinner. We’d swim and chase, and Daddy would let us jump off his shoulders into the water. We’d always beg him to buy us an inflatable raft. His standard reply was that rafts were very dangerous–what if the tide took us out into the Gulf? We’d end up in Mexico! It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized buying rafts for the five of us would have eaten up the week’s grocery money! If he was feeling flush, we’d each get a quarter to get snacks from the concession stand. A fudgesicle was a huge treat. When we were worn out, he’d wrap us all in towels and load us back into the car for the ride home. And if he was really, really flush, sometimes we’d get to stop at the A&W hotdog stand on the way home, or Biff-Burger, which made the best onion rings ever. The Biff-Burger is now a rib joint, last I heard, and I don’t know what happened to the old A&W. The last place my parents lived before Mom died four years ago was in a Gulf-front condo–directly across the street from the spot where we played as kids. They never tired of looking out at those gorgeous sunsets, or of thinking about how far they’d come from those peanut-butter and Kool-Aid days. So, Sunday nights at the beach are still special–but bittersweet.