I’m home this week in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. I love being near the ocean again. After a long stint in Southern California, my grown-up home is currently Chattanooga, Tennessee, a place with no ocean, but lots of charm, friendly people and a river that does the job for now. Chattanooga is home, but my childhood home will always be the beaches of South Carolina.
I love being home not just for the beach, but to hang out with my family; cooking for my mom, taking my niece surfing, and getting cuddles from Benny Boy, the family corgi. It’s part of the reason we left California, to not be quite so far away from family. The older I get the more I realize how much time I want to spend with family. In high school I was pretty much ready to get as far away as possible, and I did for a while, but over the last year I’ve been inching my way back closer to the east coast, at least in driving distance to my parents.
Chattanooga is close enough to Pawleys to drive down on the weekend, and far away enough that we still need a heads up if any family is planning on coming over. At this age, it’s the perfect distance. Who knows, as I get older it may feel too far, just as California started to feel once I hit mid-thirties, but for now, Chattanooga works.
I’ve loved getting to hang out with my mom. Her humor is sharper than ever and I can see more and more where I get my sense of humor from. It’s funny how her wit has been in front of me my whole life and it wasn’t until I started doing comedy later in life that I realized just how clever and comedic my mother was.
We’ve spent the days at the beach and the evenings watching Little House on The Prairie. Mom has quite the crush on Pa Ingalls. In last night’s episode, someone was sneaking around in the middle of the night outside of the Ingalls house. Pa ran out in a long nightgown holding a rifle. “There he is, Mom,” I said, “in his nightgown, ooooo!” Mom smiled, “yeaaaa, I wanna get me a nightgown… one with a Pa Ingalls in it!”
I literally laughed out loud… I do a lot with my mom.
For as much as I love coming home, it’s also bittersweet. When my parents divorced nearly 10 years ago they sold the family home and moved into separate condos. The four of us kids divide our time trying to figure out what night to eat dinner where… it’s not the end of the world, it’s a new normal we are fully adjusted to. But sometimes when I’m not trying so hard to be a grown up, it’s still a little hard.
Every time I come back to Pawleys Island, I drive by our old home, the house I grew up in and came home from college to. The house where I celebrated every birthday and Christmas as a kid, had sleepovers in middle school, and brought the boys I loved to meet my parents, as well as dumped the one I didn’t.
I loved that house, I had an entirely purple room… purple walls and purple carpet. I eventually covered the walls with so many Hanson posters, you couldn’t see a spec of purple. Some might have called it a shrine. I called it glorious.
The house pretty much sits empty now. It serves as a second home to some folks up north who only come down on occasion in the summer. They ripped the shutters off and painted the once beige colored house a dark navy blue. It looks different and yet the same.
I sat in the car and stared at the porch, a place I sat often, whether listening to music, praying to God, or hoping a cute boy would ride by on his bike. It’s weird how life seemed to take so long as a kid, thinking adulthood and relationships and everything I thought I wanted was so far away. At thirty-eight, as I looked at the porch that used to be mine, I realized it all went by in a blip.
No one told me I’d grow up one day. I mean, they did, but they didn’t. It’s an assumed part of life, we all know we’re going to grow up. But I don’t think we really know what that means or what it will look like. We don’t realize that not only will we get older, but we will look old, and we won’t be the cool ones anymore, let alone the young ones. No one told me there would always be people younger than me, reminding me how old I’m getting, calling me ma’am when I check out at the grocery store.
No one told me, I suppose, because they were busy going through it themselves, realizing how fast time goes and how short life is. Each generation adjusting as they go along, entering each new decade they reach for the first time.
As an enneagram 4, I’m prone to dwelling in the land of nostalgia, wishing for things to be the way they were, even if I don’t recall them as being that great… the mere fact that something is a memory often makes it great for me. Perhaps that’s why I drive by the old house, an attempt to remember and relive our family all hanging out together.
And with that, I drove to the beach and jumped in the ocean to wash it all off. The ocean reminds me that everything really is okay. And it is, I’m truly, truly grateful for the beautiful life I have. I’m even grateful for the the memories I get to relive even if just for a moment when I drive by my old house.
I’ll head back to my own home in Tennessee soon, a home I’ve been enjoying creating new memories in with my husband, Josh. But for now, the ocean is calling…. my home away from home, my happy place, with or without the big family house.