I’m always up for a good travel adventure and I’ve had quite a few these last few years. I love jetting off to some place exotic or exploring new territory but sometimes the body and soul just needs a rest. This last week I just needed a rest. I’ve had a hard year so far and I needed to get away and not have to think about logistics. This year is Caroline’s turn to backpack with friends in Europe so Alexandra and I headed down to South Carolina for a few days.
I’m a beachaholic and believe the beach is the best vacation destination with children. I make sure I breathe the ocean air and get my feet in the sand at least once a year—somehow, somewhere. Through the years my beach of choice has been in South Carolina. I love the gray starkness of just water, sand and sky, the flat sand for long walks and the gentle warm waves. The early years with children I would go to Charleston to minimize my time in the car, six hours door to door, interstate the whole way. The last nine years I have gone to Hilton Head Island near Savannah, Georgia, an hour farther but worth the extra time. It is easy to get to, no reservations required, just throw a few things in the car and go. I don’t even need directions for I know the way by heart.
So over the mountains of western North Carolina down the plateau to Columbia where we stop at the mall for a nice break and then on to a friend’s condo in a picture perfect neighborhood. The condo is small and sparsely furnished but just what is needed to relax. I get the furniture situated on the screened porch, start the coffee maker and commence reading. I always take a large stack of books and magazines to make sure any reading whim is covered, plus there is always a trip to the bookstore to fill in any missing gaps. Everyday I move my reading venue to the beach where the salty wind and the stark landscape of the ocean make me feel most myself. I’m like a crystal being cleansed in the salt water, removing all the old energy and being revitalizing to shine again.
This corner of our precious planet is like a fairyland of enchantment. Everywhere you look are Live Oaks dripping with Spanish moss, the sun shines through the moss to make soft filtered light. If I had flown round the world I wouldn’t find any place more exotic and unique. The beautiful architecture of the Charleston and Savannah low-country houses adds to the old-world charm. The sailboats in the marina make their characteristic clang in the breeze, the perfect windchime of the beach.
Instead of seeking out new experiences I look forward to the same routine, same restaurants, same stores, the same walks. It doesn’t change and it is exactly how I like it. I need the old familiar, like reading my most beloved book, or wearing my most comfortable clothes. I need the gentleness of knowing what is next so that I can deeply relax and heal.
This year’s trip is bittersweet, Alexandra and I had a last few days together before she begins her new life in California. She has graduated college now and has her dream job in Santa Monica. There won’t be time to vacation in South Carolina with her mother anymore and so we have said good-bye to our happy routine. I will still go to my little borrowed sanctuary in Hilton Head every year but next year I will learn a new beach and a new routine in California and enjoy the healing in that corner of the world.