It started, as wonderful things sometimes do, as a chore. We need to get our beach house ready for the rental season, but MDR and I prefer to relax here in the off season, not do chores. The list of things to do around Memorial Day weekend was beginning to leach any joy from the possibilities latent in the unofficial start of summer.
I looked at my schedule from now until the end of May and chose the best place for an afternoon drive to the beach, an evening and morning of chores, then the drive back. Not the most exciting way to spend a day and a half, but it would do and give us back some time over the holiday.
Of course, in the manner of all getaways, e-mails and phone calls and the regular day to day stuff got in the way and departure was later than expected. I was feeling a bit stressed. But the magic of the ocean has properties even 190 miles inland. As soon as I turned on the audio book and set my sights east, I started to relax.
It’s different to head to a vacation place alone. No need to confer with anyone else about when to eat or where. Here were 24-ish hours in which I had the sole say in what I would do and when. Sure a honey-do list of things awaited, but I could work as late as I needed and get up as early as I wanted.
The sun was in the west as I pulled in the driveway. I opened up the house, raised the storm shutters for the season, threw open most of the windows to freshen up the air inside, then went downstairs to tackle the closet at the top of the list. Two hours later, it was pristine and I was a dusty, sandy mess. But the result was a closet that I was happy to open and felt comfortable asking renters to.
A job well done.
Showered off the grime, dressed in clean clothes and walked the block to our favorite taphouse on the beach. My plan was a healthy dinner and a beer at the bar, and that was exactly what I got in the quiet restaurant and empty bar. Now this was a place thick with people two weekends ago, but I found my new go-to night out: Tuesday nights at the beach in the off season. I could hear the music. I could chat with the bartender, I could read a little. And someone else made dinner.
I was back at it early the next morning, with the windows wide open and the ocean serving as breakfast music before the beach “rush hour” traffic started to drown it out. Then I visited with our neighbors before showering and heading back east.
Our beach neighborhood is an eclectic mix of homes with some strictly serving as rentals and others as year round homes. We are three lots back from the beach and off the beach road, but the height of our house and the lack of it in our neighbors to the east mean that we have a view of the ocean from all our windows, not just the deck.
I took a break and brought up the instagram app on my phone and snapped this photo. The timeless quality of the house at the ocean, the synchronistic appearance of the PT Cruiser made it look like something that might have been taken 50 years ago.
Not everyone wants a photo of a house that’s not their own, but this suited my mood perfectly. I’ll happily share the house with MDR and the kids in less than two weeks, but these 29 hours were a small gift, a moment in time.
A postcard from the beach.
Laura Reeth lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with the man of her dreams. With kids off at college, she no longer plays the role of active, day-to-day parent, and has moved into the complex understanding-parent-of-nearly-adult-children role. The main difference is she gets more sleep now.
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