Some of my favorite memories are from the beach. When I was just a wee lad, my family would vacation to Avalon, a beach community on the Southern Jersey Shore. I returned there last year for vacation, and wrote about it on this blog thing. From when I was around 10 and through college, I vacationed in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The summer Becky was pregnant (2007) was the last time I was there for summer vacation.
I’ve been lucky enough to make my way down there twice this month (nonconsecutively, which was sort of a pain). First, I stayed with my in-laws who live in Southern Shores, NC. Then I came back to Baltimore for a week. Then I went to South Nags Head, NC, with my family for a week.
Literally, there are no places I’ve yet been to on Earth that relax me and soothe me like the air, sounds, and smells of certain ocean towns. I was down in Southern Shores for Thanksgiving last November, and even when the ocean was too cold to enjoy, and even the sand seemed to harden against the Atlantic breezes, I could feel the tension draining out of my shoulders. Even though Becky’s whole family spent most of the week squeezed into her parents’ house, I could feel the mental aches draining out like sand through a seive.
Sure, all vacations have an element of draining. I was in Pittsburgh for Christmas last year, and that city always fascinates and captivates me. It’s dirtiness and yet modernity are ever capable of drawing a smile. Yet, it rarely leaves me in awe like the smell of salt water, sand and sound-mud. It rarely staggers my imagination with sunrises and sunsets and the clinking of tackle against masts.
After being in Fredericksburg and glimpsing a slower life in outlying towns, part of me yearns for that. I want, one day, to live near the ocean and breathe that air in the morning. I want to pull that air through the scent of my morning coffee as I head out the door to the office. I want a pace that encourages me to soak in the hours and minutes and seconds I have with my family.
I want to work hard; really hard, but between business hours, I want the peace the Atlantic Ocean has never, ever failed to share with me.