Monday, May 9, 2011

The Beach Trip

Riding in the car with my husband and son to the beach house is about a four and a half hour trip, if we don't have to stop for lunch and the traffic isn't heavy.  Plenty of time to think about the years we've been making this same journey, and how many things have changed during 22 years.  Even the route down here has changed.  New roads have been built that bypass some of the cute little towns that I enjoyed passing through, and existing roads have been widened to accommodate more traffic and make the trip go faster.  Which is a good thing in some ways.  But the scenery along the way is part of the experience for me.  I guess that's why they say that life is about the journey, not the destination.

Our son was here at Oak Island before he made his entry into this world almost 21 years ago.  When we're here, I always try to remember to take a look at the framed family photo of a group of us standing outside on the deck. There I am, pregnant, looking excited and expectant, about to embark on yet another (lifelong) amazing adventure.  If you look closely, you can see that I'm holding a dog leash in my hand.  Even though Miss Bonnie was too short to show up in the picture, I know she was down there at my feet.  MacDuff is the second Scottish Terrorist that has gotten to enjoy the adventure of yearly trips to the beach with us. 

And even though the breed has the reputation for being quite bossy, both of our dogs have been very well behaved here.  MacDuff sits quietly on the screened porch with us and watches the birds, the squirrels, and the occasional turtle.

And the only time he barks is if someone rings the doorbell (a rare occurrence), or the golfers hit a ball too close to the porch.  When that happens my in-laws say, "Good dog; they shouldn't be so close to the house to begin with".

This house and this island hold a thousand memories for me.  How fortunate we are to have been a part of it all for 22 years now.  The house is a living journal of our married life and family life.  I can close my eyes and see the pictures like a kaleidoscope of images through the years:  meals on the porch, walks on the beach, driving to the lighthouse, riding bicycles, collecting seashells, daydreaming, and catching up on our rest.  Escaping from the hectic workaday world.

There were the precious toddler years of sunbonnets and sand buckets; splashing in the waves and attempting to build sandcastles.  Watching the crabs scurry along the beach and wearing funny round floats in the swimming pool.  Sand in our shoes and towels, and sunburn on our cheeks, and a precious metal bucket with Thomas the Tank Engine depicted in bright colors. 

Fast forward a few years to the time when my parents had a condo at Cherry Grove, and we would drive down and meet them for a dinner that my Mom had cooked for us.  It always tasted so good to me; fresh shrimp and corn from the local produce market and a fresh pie for dessert.  Then we'd all head out to the family arcade down the street where we played miniature golf (when the bugs weren't too bad) and our son loved to play the arcade games.  His main reason for this was that he stockpiled the tickets from his wins and used them to collect prizes at the end of the evening.  We would all save our tickets to combine with his, so that he could pick out even more of those little plastic prizes from behind the counter; little plastic fish and snakes and birds and boats; all the things that fascinate little boys.  And then in the evenings, when we returned to the house after a busy day, there were card games, and board games, and watching old movies.

And the years continue to race by.  Our son is a rising junior in college, and now he brings his friends down here at Christmas or Spring Break to the place where he has had so many good times.  He almost didn't come down with us this week because he had originally planned to hike on the Appalachian Trail with some friends.  But they ended up making other plans like summer school, or summer jobs, or other travels, so our son is here with us again for a week this summer.  Another summer when we can carry on this precious tradition.

My husband's parents bought this almost-new house 22 years ago.  During that time, it has stood witness to many changes. The beach itself changes as the sand is washed away during heavy storms and hurricanes; and then is later replenished, to stay for some years and then be washed out to sea again, one of nature's endless cycles.  And then there is the commercial development and building.  When we first started coming here, there was very little to do other than relax, swim, walk and fly kites on the beach, and enjoy the quiet surroundings.  While it is nice to have more accessible conveniences, I regret the loss of solitude which is the price we pay for those new conveniences.  The very things we come down here to escape have followed and caught up with us.

One of the biggest changes between 1989 and now has been the economy.  The whole family was so excited when my husband's parents bought this house, and the economy was good then.  We had such fun when we stayed here with my in-laws.  My mother-in-law would cook wonderful food for us and we got to spend quality time together.  Those are precious memories.  But times are much tougher and leaner now.  I know there was a time when my in-laws considered selling the house because they can't spend as much time here these days, and there is so much expense required to maintain any home.  We have college tuition to pay now and my husband's parents are living on a retirement income.  In addition, they have two sons and daughters-in-law and five grandchildren that they try to help out as much as possible.  So the money has to stretch farther than it ever has.  And though we can see the signs of wear throughout the house, it is still beautiful to us, and we love it as much as ever.  It has character.   So for now, I'm so grateful that the house remains in the family for everyone to enjoy when they can find the time to do so.  Life is good.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

My Blog Designer