My side of the family has vacationed in the same spot for over 2 decades. Same milepost, same beach club, same condo. All of it the same.
Here’s a picture of my Nana with my brother and I before my sister and cousin were even born:
And here’s my mom, on that same beach I’m looking at instead of the camera, with all of her grandbabies this year:
My best friend and I have pictures of us on that beach as little girls, hosing the sand off each other, in bathing suits that are too cute for words. There are also pictures of us as annoying tweens and wanna-be rebellious teenagers. We’ve yet to make it back there as adults together, but that time will come.
There’s a family we see there every year who have known me longer than 99% of my friends. We met when I was 8 and bonded over intense games of hide and seek and endless hours of boogie boarding and body surfing. As we grew up, the hide and seek games got bigger (as did the waves, at times…) and we threw in endless nights of playing rummy around the circular kitchen table and walks on the beach where we caught up on every single detail of the past year of our lives.
Meeting that family introduced me to my first “I’m 14 but I swear I’m going to marry him” crush. They showed me that all families fight and love hard and have drama. They introduced me to disgusting bologna loaf and made me feel better knowing that I wasn’t the only girl who could house half a container of ice cream in one sitting.
We wrote letters to each other with pen and paper and an actual stamp when we were younger. At one point, in my early 20s, I sent letters (admittedly typed…) to one of them while they served in the Peace Corps. Now, we still send text messages throughout the year.
I can’t help but feel this immense feeling of nostalgia whenever I return home from my time spent in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
My brother and I take our families to the same places we used to go to as kids. We watch them run down the same boardwalk. Play in the same ocean. Swim in the same pools. Take baths in the same giant tub. Sleep in the same beds.
Nana made this all happen for us. She started this timeshare tradition of bringing the family to Nags Head every year. Our weeks look a lot different nowadays without the hustle required to make it to a 4pm dinner for the early bird special, and our beds are never, ever made, but the same love and feeling of togetherness still permeates every inch of that condo.
Now, when I think of our beach week, I think about watching my kids play with their cousins. I think about gabbing too loud after too many glasses of homemade Italian wine to my sisters.
I think about how much it irks me when the bathroom gets too dirty and it never being a second thought when I was younger. I think about Carter and Levi sneaking onto the back deck and how I am simultaneously freaked out about them being out there alone and also in awe of them getting into trouble together. For the short time they are with each other, they love and fight and play and yell like they are brothers. They may never have actual brothers of their own, so I hope this is a relationship that continues as they get older.
I think about sitting by the edge of the water with my mom and watching her freak out every time one of my fearless kids inches too close to where the waves break. I think about our huge shrimp dinners, baked potatoes and corn dip. I think about ice cream and sun burns and coffee-filled mornings.
They continue to be some of the most cherished days of the year for me…those ones I get to spend in the Outer Banks with my family. They remind me that moments can be full of stress and yet absolutely amazing all at the same time.
Pretty much like my entire life these days.