We come to the same beach every summer. Though none of us plays golf, we stay in the same golf course community -- often in the same condo -- every year. It's familiar, and we like it. We know where things are, we know what to expect, what to pack, where everything goes when we unpack. We've even gone to open houses in this complex, checking out the prices and the possibilities, dreaming of being owners instead of renters.
Today, as my husband and I were walking on the beach, he asked me if I had any interest in going somewhere different for vacation. Many people in our area of Pennsylvania vacation in the Myrtle Beach area, and though we've talked about it a couple of times, we've always ended up in Bethany.
One summer, we skipped the east coast beaches entirely and took a Caribbean cruise, something I hope to do again someday, but in the meantime, we always end up in Bethany Beach.
As we walked, and off and on throughout the afternoon, I thought about his question. I thought back to a summer when my daughter was still in elementary school and I spent an hour or so online, sketching out a vacation to North Carolina. When I approached my husband and daughter about it, they were less than enthusiastic. "Too much time in the car," they both said.
And that was that -- for then, anyhow. Each summer, we consider the possibilities, and each summer, we end up here. Even though my daughter is older and the length of the car ride to our destination is no longer as prohibitive as it once was, summer isn't summer unless we come to the beach.
Now that my daughter is in high school, the advantages of familiarity are, in some ways, more important than ever. Because she's been coming here since she was small, she knows this place. For the past two summers, she's brought a friend along, and because she has her bearings, I'm comfortable letting her branch out. When she and her friend make a quick run up onto the boardwalk or even into town while my husband and I are on the beach during the day (or vice versa), I don't worry about her. (Cell phones help). The girls can go to the pool or on a bike ride through the complex, and I don't stress. We can run out to the grocery store or to pick up take-out knowing they're just fine where they are.
These age-appropriate freedoms are something I can offer her because we know this place, and I know she knows this place. I know she can contact us if she needs us, and I don't feel the need to smother her, something I probably would do if we were in an unfamiliar locale. Something that I probably shouldn't be doing when she's only a few years away from branching out on her own somewhere new and different.
So, I guess for now, my answer is no. No, I don't really want to go anywhere else, or even stay anywhere else. At least not for the next few years. In part, I love the predictability of this community. I love knowing what I have to pack and what I can buy once I get here. I love our favorite miniature golf course with the great soundtrack and the Australian theme. And, of course, I love the screened-in porch and the bullfrogs that converse below me every night.
It's strange that it has taken me so long to realize this, but I now understand that my daughter has grown up here, and that coming here and having some away-from-home freedoms is probably just what she needs right now -- what both of us need. And, as long as she has good taste in traveling companions (and so far, she has), we all have fun.
Which is sort of the point of going on vacation.