We drove 810 miles to get there. We spent five weeks in the southern sun. We got bleach blonde (2 of us), and a few shades darker (5 of us), and we learned — again — that home is wherever we are together. We kayaked with dolphins, we found 636 sharks teeth, and saw a whole bunch of sunsets. We caught blue crabs in our crab trap, mullet (and squid, and shrimp, and flounder) in our cast nets, and little sharks on our fishing poles. We learned to hold fiddler crabs, we saw baby Loggerhead turtles hatching, and got stung by a jellyfish (luckily only one of us, and only once; unluckily, it was Meera). Owen grew 3 inches and gained 15 pounds. Kyle grew 3 inches and lost 5 pounds. Meera produced a huge volume of art, built countless sandcastles, and found it to be wonderfully true that her parents wouldn’t force her to be separated for a month from her beloved cat Pearl. Dash played with a ghost crab, ran like a madman on the beach, and swam in the salt water. We all slept well at night. We ate pounds and pounds of shrimp caught in the waters we view from the beach house, we slept late almost every morning, and we explored new places together. We learned a lot. We read a lot. We laughed a lot. We fought, we cried, we yelled at each other, we lost our patience and found out — once again — that five weeks alone in a remote location with only five other people makes you really, really, bond with them, and get really, really aggravated with them. We disagreed over many things, large and small. But we all agreed that we’re five very, very annoying people who are deeply imperfect and seriously flawed. We climbed palmetto trees (O), learned a lot more history (K), mastered the front-flip-into-the-pool (M), and drank wine on the beach (H&B). We were salty and sandy and happy the vast majority of the time. We agreed it’s a great place to visit, but we’d never want to live there. And that we love to travel, and we really love our home. We learned a lot. (Meera said that what she learned the most is that, “We’re happy, funny, emotional, weird people.” I couldn’t have said it better myself! We made more memories than we could ever remember. We drove 17 hours back, and came back with a zip-loc bag full of sea shells, a lot of memories, and renewed energy for the year ahead. We arrived home so much richer and so much stronger than when we had left.
It did what it was meant to do. It took us away. And it brought us back. It was a journey into ourselves, and a pushing out of our horizons. It changed us. For the better.
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” ~Mary Ritter Beard