All of us have memories, memories built around people, places and events – memories that hold a particularly special place in our heart. You know the memories I’m talking about, the ones that, in an instant, can illuminate the “darkness” that inevitably weasels its way into our everyday lives from time-to-time, the ones that, when brought to mind, quickly soothe our sometimes weary souls – like the smile of an old friend. For me, many of those memories center around the Wrights and their summer home in Ocean Isle Beach:
June 2, 2012
Dear David and Sharon, Every year at this time, I find myself reminiscing about our trips to Ocean Isle Beach – and this year is no exception. I suppose it’s because June was always the time that I first allowed myself to think about the trip. It was the only meaningful vacation I took each year.
I remember how much I looked forward to it, how many years I desperately needed the respite it provided. I remember the anticipation in the car on the long drive up, reaching the crest of the bridge leading to the island, turning left at the rickety water slide and the excitement when we finally pulled into the driveway at The Wright House. I remember the warm and enthusiastic greetings, the getting settled in, and seeing the familiar beach out the back door as we reached the top of the stairs that led to the living room. I remember being struck by how much the kids had grown and changed in just one year – and watching them grow up before my eyes.
I remember lots of very frustrating rounds of golf (and a handful I will never forget), playing in the surf, games of horseshoe and paddle-ball, building misshapen sand castles and the end-of-the-day-sunburns I had to show for it. I remember piling everyone into the van for day-long tours of every miniature golf course within 25 miles of the front door and well-timed visits to every doughnut store and ice cream shop we could find. I remember Courtney and Ashley being good sports and “tolerating” those excursions, albeit likely more for the “treats” that went along with them than the mini-golf – and the otherwise too-infrequent time spent with dads.
I remember all the “rituals” that evolved over the years: Chestnut Hill and movie night; Umberto’s and Sharon gnawing on the animal bone du jour; The Parson’s Table and “Danny Boy;” steak and shrimp night at the house; more strawberry coladas and daiquiris than I care to think about; and way too competitive games of Password, Charades (and David’s “generic animals”), Taboo, Trivial Pursuit (usually dominated by Sharon, as I recall) and a few others whose names escape me right now. I remember cooking an entire pound of bacon in the morning (and then wondering where it all went 5 minutes later!) and the smell of cinnamon buns, by the dozens, in the oven.
I remember Courtney and Ashley fully engaged with the sitters – and our often wondering where the sitters were at 3 o’clock in the morning! I remember Greg and Christopher trying to burn the place to the ground and the kids “engraving” their initials in the still wet cement of the front sidewalk. I remember watching Coble grow up and how much of an inspiration he would later become in my life. I remember long walks on the beautiful beach and quiet evenings on the back deck, Calabash dinners and hush puppies with honey butter (in fact, I’m pretty confident some of those 3,000 “puppies” are still attached to my waist?!?).
Most of all, however, I remember your friendship and your hospitality. Those trips were among the best times of my life. It’s little wonder I remember them so fondly. And today I wanted you both to know that – and the depth of my gratitude for all both of you (and your family) did to make them so very special and memorable.