A couple of weeks ago my family and I moved down to Martha’s Vineyard for the summer. We have been coming to this island for as long as I can remember, and have thought of it as a second home for nearly as long. When I was younger we rented a house and visited for a week or two every summer. By the time I was in 7th grade, my parents had finally saved up enough money and were able to buy a house they loved; a dream they shared ever since their first trip here when they were a little older than I am now.
When we first got our house, we came down as much as our schedules would allow, but as school got more demanding, I, at least, was only able to come for the summer. Eventually I began getting summer jobs, and while they made me feel responsible and mature, they took away all of my free time.
I was standing in a coffee shop the other day and I saw a family group of at least three kids and a mom. The kids were all excited about their cookies and muffins, decked out in their yacht club tee shirts, rope bracelets and flip flops. The mom was similarly dressed; making sure everyone was carrying what they were supposed to so they could meet up with everyone else at the beach. As I watch the kids leave without a care beyond who is going to get to jump off the bridge first, I realize I miss that. That carefree untouchable attitude that you can only truly witness when you no longer have the ability to live in it. I miss the adventure and excitement of being on Vacation. Traveling to unknown exciting locations, or even visiting a favorite place from the memories of past adventures. Seeking out that rare destination, so unique that it can only exist in a place far away and seldom seen.
I have felt, for a while now, that while I still deeply love and feel at home here on Martha’s Vineyard, it is just that, a home. It no longer holds the adventure and wonder that it used to when I was a child. While it is gorgeous, and the location of some of my all time, hands-down, favorite places to eat and visit, it still doesn’t exactly feel like a vacation. I don’t feel like I’m getting a break from stresses so much as a new location for them. I have always felt that this is an entirely selfish and spoiled notion but I still can’t seem to shake it.
But then one late afternoon, as we drove along state beach, with the windows down, despite the available A.C. and 85 degree weather, blasting what may be deemed in some circles as cheesy, even sugary pop music, I realized this is still my freedom. It may not hold the same adventure it once did, but is still that welcomed change from my main land world.
The smell of the ocean and the way the light seems to bounce around here in a way that it never seems to mimic elsewhere reminds me that, even though my responsibilities have changed, and I have changed, the essential nature and loveliness of this place has not. And although I view it differently now it will always be a haven of sorts.
It may never be as wondrous or as all encompassing as it once was when I was a kid, but nothing ever really is, is it? That doesn’t mean that we lose it, or that it goes away, it just changes as we change. We might have to look a little harder to find it but it’s there waiting for the right moment to show you the magic that can still be found.