The best part of vacation is coming home again! I don’t think I ever appreciate home quite as much as I do after a vacation.
No matter how great the accommodations are while vacationing, nothing can compare with sleeping in your own bed or taking a shower in your very own bathroom. Just being able to find the simple things in life like a toothbrush or hairbrush without having to rifle through an overnight case is a simple luxury we take for granted until we’re away from home.
Maybe that’s what vacations are really all about: Learning to appreciate what we take for granted in our everyday lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the beach.
Watching the tide coming in and the waves lapping against the shoreline puts life into perspective for me. I realize that we are no more significant than one of those waves touching the shore for a few brief seconds and then receding back out to sea once more.
In the grand scheme of things our lives are little more than a brief touchdown on this earth, after which we then return to the universe for eternity. Some of us leave behind beautiful shells to remember us by while others leave debris in their wake, like seaweed that merely litters the shores of life and detracts from the beauty of the landscape.
My fervent prayer is that I will leave behind as many beautiful shells of memory as I possibly can, while sweeping away the ugly debris of sharp words as the tide of my life recedes back out to sea.
Geez! I don’t quite know where those thoughts came from but once they were in front of me on the printed page, I decided they should remain so that you can see that sometimes I do have deep thoughts ------ though not too often.
Now back to the beach and my vacation.
Last week as I lay on the beach, basking in the August sun, I decided that the beach would truly be a perfect place if it weren’t for a few minor annoyances such as: the sand that permeates everything, including your personal body parts; the constant wind that blows everything about, including the sand; the black flies that become man-eaters, devouring tasty bits of ankles and legs; the jelly fish that lurk in the waters, defying anyone to come near or accidentally brush against them;  and the saltwater that burns the eyes and makes you feel sticky all over.
Aside from those few pesky things, the beach is the most perfect spot on earth ---- for a few hours, anyway.
Each time I return there the memories of past trips to the beach come flooding back, making me wonder how I could have forgotten about them. Those memories, like the pain of childbirth, seem to dissipate with time, leaving only the longing to return there once more.
I wouldn’t describe this year’s trip to the beach as a scene out of the movie “Nights in Rodanthe” although we were just a few miles down the road from Rodanthe.
It was more like a scene from the movie, National Lampoon’s “Vacation.” You remember, Clark Griswold and his infamous cross-country family excursion in search of Walley World?
Well, like the Griswold’s vacation, ours was filled with all those events that alter and illuminate our lives, from the time we pulled out of the driveway until we each returned at various times a week later.
This year’s beach vacation was filled with both great and lousy seafood experiences, much laughter, a few temper tantrums, more than one tug-of-war over where to go on any given day, a trip to the North Carolina Aquarium on a cloudy day and a missed deep sea fishing trip that turned out to be way too expensive for our pocketbooks. Peer fishing, we decided became the way to go, and turned out to be a much less expensive sport.
One of my favorite beach experiences this year was sitting out on the deck after dark each night at the house we rented, watching the meteor showers. Known as the Perseid Meteor Showers, they begin each year sometime around the second week in August, reaching their peak on August twelfth and thirteenth, although they can still be enjoyed each evening until August 24th. These meteors are debris and leftover bits of the comet Swift-Tuttle and are located in the constellation Perseus. Some nights we counted over twenty-five meteors, or shooting stars, as I call them.
I had forgotten about these annual meteor showers until one evening, after coming back home from a seafood dinner I went out and sat on the deck, gazing up at the stars.
When Murphy and I lived in the Pacific Northwest, everyone took lawn chairs and sat out in their yards, or else went out of town where there were fewer lights each August evening, and sat watching and waiting for the celestial show to begin.
On this particular night last week I looked up at the sky and asked out loud if Murphy was perched up there somewhere watching the week’s events taking place down here on earth. He and I had lived for two years in North Carolina and both of us loved the ocean. The words were no sooner out of my mouth than a huge meteor, raced across the sky from north to south.
Just that quickly, my question was answered!
How can I sum up my vacation? Let’s just say: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.
Diets were forgotten as nerves frayed and the need to self-medicate made more than one of us turn to food for consolation. Others among us preferred to drown their discomfort with a few beers.
Some played cards, while others played and argued good naturedly over a game of Scrabble.
Miss Marissa instantly became a beach girl, and had to be coaxed to leave the sand and waves each evening. Seeing her enjoying the ocean for the first time made anything else that occurred, pale in comparison.
What can I say? It was a family vacation.
Need I say more?