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38 Years and I Still Can’t Figure It Out

I woke up this morning feeling the burn. The burn from sunburn, that is. How is it that 19 years growing up at the beach and then 18 years in the Valley of the Sun didn’t prepare me for the need to wear sunscreen on a relatively humid, partly cloudy, mid-80’s gorgeous day? I had on my ball cap, sunglasses, tank, capris and my hair pulled back. Clearly, I was preparing for an accurate weather forecast. What was it that I told myself that rationalized not wearing sunscreen? That conversation I have blocked from my memory, in the hopes I can tell myself that I didn’t know I needed to when my skin begins to cry out, “Why did you do this to me!”

I spent a lovely Mother’s Day with my beautiful, half photographically cooperative daughter at The Great Tennessee Air Show. This was the first time I had been to anything like this. I’ve always thought it would be something fun to see. Not ever having been, I was strongly advised that a ball cap and sunglasses were necessary items. For those who may not know me well, ball caps are not something I have worn or would ever wear. Other girls are super cute with them on. I, on the other hand, look like a boy.

Yet, given my inherent ignorance, I listened to the wisdom, “You’ll be looking up into the bright sky all day. It will be more enjoyable if you have a visor to block some of the glare.” But it didn’t keep me from pitching a grown up “but I don’t want to wear one” kind of fit. However, as always, I do the things I really do not want to do when I know that is the prudent thing . So, I sported a pink (of course!) ball cap with “Tennessee” written across the front and put on my hoop earrings to ensure everyone knew I was a girl.

We arrived at about 11:30, just in time to see the parachuter jump carrying the American flag as the National Anthem was sung. We saw prop planes, a WWII “bent wing bird” fly with an FA-18 jet, a wing walker, F-15 and dueling planes. But the highlight for me was watching the precision flying of the Thunderbirds. It was so impressive to see how tight their formations were. The roar of the engines was so loud, the rumbling vibrations tickled my ears and I could feel it in my chest.  By the time the Thunderbirds show ended it was 4:00. My fair skinned, light eyed, blonde daughter was burnt to a crisp, a radish, a strawberry, a lobster…and my favorite… a redneck. I, however, just had “some color”.

As we drove home, she was in pain. Time to impart to her all of my years experience in dealing with sunburn, all the while feeling totally stoked that I am not burned. “Put aloe on when you get up in the morning and when you get home from school and repeatedly until bedtime. Drink a lot of water for the next couple of weeks, even after the burn is gone.” She was hurting so badly, the stereo-typical teenage “I know” wasn’t once uttered. She was happy to hear anything I had to say that might help.

And then evening came… and I looked in the mirror. Oh how easy it was to deceive myself until I was looking at my reflection. I was a nice version of red. Not the strawberry pink variety that Isa has but the dark cherry color.  Here is where my skin begins to demand an answer and where I am pleading ignorance.

I’ve spent the day following the advice I gave to Isabel last night, “Put aloe on when you get up in the morning and when you get home from school and repeatedly until bedtime. Drink a lot of water for the next couple of weeks, even after the burn is gone.”

A word to those who would rather learn from other’s mistakes than make the mistakes themselves: Preventative is so much better than prescriptive. Wear your sunscreen and enjoy your day in the sun and your evening pain free.


  1. Jacie Peters

    Oh Shayna, That is terrible! However I know the pain well! Saturday we went to car show at the park for about 45 mins to an hour. I of course come home with a burnt nose and chest! Argh.. the most strange part is that today it’s SNOWING!!! Not sure I will ever get used to this weird weather. I am much more used to the beach and a range of about 15 degrees ALL YEAR LONG!!

    xxoo, Jacie

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