It’s been over a month since I’ve last posted. My need for transparently sharing my world sometimes clashes with my need for space. I have the desire to be this open book– someone that isn’t afraid to share the bad bits of life with the good, but every now and then the vulnerability becomes overwhelming. I want to shut down and disappear into the shadows. Perks of being an introvert, I suppose, but here I am! Feeling inspired and equally brave, once again.
Grandpa’s trusty truck gets loaded up with beach gear and smiling faces as we set out for our little getaway. In celebration of my mother turning 50, our family decided to take a trip down to the Outer Banks.
There’s something extra special to me about this place. I’m sure it has to do with all of the memories I’ve created out there over the years; from the week-long trips we used to make growing up, to the short trips I find myself making nowadays; from the drunken binge at senior skip, to the tranquil hours Caitlin and I spent splashing in the sea; from the spontaneous trips taken in the peaks of my happiest highs, to the same spontaneity that arose during my lowest lows. I find solace in my isolation on those dunes. Underneath it all, it feels like home.
We are on route to the brilliant coast, chatting about all of our plans for the upcoming days and nearly bursting with excitement. As tradition goes, we make our first stop at the Morris Farm Market to stock up on our groceries. We fill our bellies with every free sample in sight, secretly taking multiple trips around the peaches and blackberry cider. We gawk at every fruit and vegetable alike, as if we’ve never seen such freshness before and just after we finally catch ourselves spending WAY too much money, we’re back on the final stretch of that country road.
In the backyard of our temporary home, we scatter blankets across the sand. By this point, the grandparents are preparing for bed, leaving just mom, Curtis (my cousin), Chris (my brother), and myself. We drink beers as the sun falls behind us and we reminisce on our lives together. Living in our own separate worlds, moments together have become rare and fleeting. The older I get, the more I catch myself breathing these seconds in deeper. Holding on tightly to the times before me, knowing just as quickly as they have come, they, too, shall pass. There’s a surreal element surrounding these moments; excitement and melancholy all tangled up together. I already miss being a child. I miss those family vacations. I miss the conversations. I even miss the arguments.
These nothing moments are actually everything.
Throughout our trip, we enjoyed live folk music, drank local craft beers, ate our weight in freshly caught seafood, melted underneath the sun, revived ourselves in the ocean and pool, played at an arcade, fished along the shore, and met the most interesting strangers. My eyes sifted through the neighborhoods for something that called to me (Alex and I have been talking much about moving here lately). Overall, the trip was a much needed escape, but an unwavering illness created some awful moments for me, too. A terrible stomach bug made its way to me just in time for the adventures. I spent one entire day and night complaining even more than usual (my one vice) as my stomach twisted into knots and tightened with each breath I took. Like a big black current that momentarily pulled my soul away from my body, it set in worse than ever. Just my luck, on this same night, we went to the coolest little bar and everyone was having a blast. Typical of me to have to be the center of attention, but my body ached to crawl back into my soft bed just around midnight. I tried to fight through it, chugging water like I’d never see it again, but the pain won. My family insisted that it was okay as they all walked away from the dance floor to pay out their tabs, but I couldn’t help feeling guilty. Ol’ wet blanket, Ashley. I wanted to shout, “I swear I’m fun sometimes! Really, I am!!!!”
I woke the next morning feeling rejuvenated and grateful that everyone still had a great time despite my setbacks. Family, guys. You just can’t beat ’em.
I’m left with immense gratitude for my honey childhood and this life (and these people) that I’ve been blessed with.
The safety and familiarity of being home is comforting, but I’m longing to relive that OBX time already.
Back to sunrises over the sea and our favorite donuts in the world.