It occurred to me on the beach today how spray sunscreen changed my life.

I love the beach.  Before we had family beach destinations I always made it a point to do a couple summer beach days at Cranes beach.  I would get there by 8 am and claim my space for at least 6 hours.  But being Irish meant I had to bring strong sunscreen, a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, sarong and sometimes sweatpants.  I couldn’t lay on my stomach without a shirt on because my back was always without sunscreen since I was alone and couldn’t put it on myself.

And then spray sunscreen happened.  Aerosol, I know it’s bad.  But now I can get sunscreen on my back and lay on my stomach, uncovered, drinking in the rays.  My absolute favorite thing in the world is to dunk myself in the water and then just dry off by laying on my stomach on my beach towel.  It’s my meditation.  Amazing how something so simple can change a life.

GPS was similar for me.  Gone are the days where I have to write down all my directions and “what ifs” on loose leaf notebook paper I have to refer to while driving.  What if you go too far? What if there’s no parking?  What if there’s a detour?  I got lost a lot.  My parents made fun of me a lot.  I always turned myself around and got where I was going but it usually took double the time, white knuckling and general lack of confidence the next time I  wanted to go somewhere.  There’s nothing like seeing the sign “Welcome to Massachusetts” when you didn’t even know you left it.

When I moved back from New Mexico, I had been starved of new music.  There wasn’t anything indie out there.  Nothing new or alternative was on the radio.  No concerts to speak of.  I lived in the desert and no music was coming from that one.  So when I got back to Boston I wanted to go to every concert at The Paradise, Great Scott, TT the Bears.  But how on earth would I drive to them?  And I couldn’t parallel park back then either.  So I always had to drag my sister or cousin to my shows so they would drive and park or at least give me directions from the passenger seat if I drove.  Then we’d find a spot and I would get out and have one of them park for me.

Once I had GPS, I had real freedom to go anywhere I wanted.  I was no longer afraid to drive in Boston.  It didn’t solve my parallel parking issue.  I still had to allow extra time to drive around blocks multiple times until someone pulled out of a corner spot so I could just drive or back right in.  But I didn’t mind that.  I didn’t mind paying for parking lots.  I was free to follow my bands and experience my music by myself without worrying about boring my chaperones who were always good sports.  In fact, my cousin makes everything fun.  She never knew these bands and we always had a blast.  One time, she came with me to see Dear Leader at TT’s, Taxpayer may have even opened and it was right when I got promoted.  I needed to celebrate.  While waiting for the show to start we walked into some room playing this heavy metal song with almost no words we could understand until they started screaming “sit on my face” which made us burst into teenage boy laughter and it became the phrase of the night.  We would just randomly look at each other and yell “sit on my face!”  And then hysterically crack up.  She is married now and 3 kids deep which is all the more reason I need the GPS.

People are sometimes in awe of the things I am comfortable doing by myself.  I owe it to spray sunscreen and GPS.  Total life changers for me.  Sometime nearing age 40 I figured out parallel parking…sometimes.  I never know when I am going to be able to do it and when I won’t be able to figure out.  I know they make cars now that do it for you.  Those are out of my price range.  And that’s ok. Sunscreen and GPS are all I really need.