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Home is Where You Make It


Even with the close of what will be one of many trips of a lifetime, I was excited knowing I would see everyone. What a way to end our first journey; it was a beautiful place on the beach, filled with the faces of people happy to see us, eager to hear our tales. I felt so warm from the heartfelt welcome. I think Thomas did too. He was officially part of the Brown family crew; he is my friend – he is my family - he is “framily.” My sister, the epitome of “hostess with the mostess,” had already texted me prior to our arrival for approval of her grocery list: vegan cheese pizza and veggie burgers.

This place was a bit in the cut, so I see why my sister was being helpful with directions - “Pull in FRONT OF the cars to not block the neighbors garage. Pull in closest to the door towards the trashcans. It’s snug.” When we found the house after overshooting it, it all came together. These beach homes were directly behind another row of beach homes so the navigating was a bit tricky. The driveway was already occupied by their two cars, which only left a narrow area perpendicular to the cars and garage door. I gave Thomas a questioning look wondering if he needed me to get out to help direct this ambitious parking attempt. He quickly replied with his own, “I have driven over 4,000 miles lady, I got this” look. And so he did. He parked it perfectly in its space like he did it every day.

I felt like I practically busted out of the car to see which member of my family I could put my hands on first. We go around the side of the home and onto the lower deck. First spotted was my brother in law, still laid up from recently having his leg in a cast for a month or so. He had a bird’s eye view of the rest of his family frolicking in the Chesapeake Bay, my sister and their two kids. I have to admit it was a great to see them all together bobbing in the water having fun followed by their super smiling faces when they saw us watching them. I don’t know who got to whom first, but I was never as happy to get wet hugs and kisses. Somewhere in the mix, I had passed my father who was pursuing one of his usual beach time activities, napping in his beach chair. I didn’t want to disturb him, so I would save his hug and kiss for later.

Last but definitely not least, was my mother who was somewhere in the house. Love and hugs and squishy time with her; once the baby always the baby. Some place this beach house is! I have had nothing but top-notch accommodations for the last two weeks and it surely ended on a beach house high. The last unpack of the car before the final one was fast. The kids took us on a delightful tour of the house and showed us to our rooms. With more of an at home feel, I think I can speak for both Thomas and I and say that there was something different and comforting about our last day on the road. Perhaps it was the soft shadow of the overcast day, the soft chatter of others, the hypnotic sound of the waves, or the love that was palpable in the air. Whatever it was, it was serene. My dad came in after his beach slumber and found us inside at the dining table. By this time my sister was in full hostess mode and was working on making sure we were all watered and fed. It was great to talk about all of the things that we were so lucky to have seen and answer questions and vow to them that I would take them back to any of the places.

After lunch I put my bathing suit on and we headed back out to the beach. The water was a bit cold at first. I have noticed now that I am older I have lost some of my ambivalent cold-water skin I used to have when I was a kid. No longer are the days that I make fun of the elders appreciating water that is more soothing at hot tub temperatures. I too head to the hot tub before I head to the brisk pool water. Yet and still, I don’t want to be a chump for not getting in the bay. I am never one to turn down a beach time frolic. It took a while and some stern talking to my almost 7 year-old nephew who found delight in making me leap when he splashed me, but I fully submerged myself and my cold-water skin was reactivated.

Soon after, most of the gang was out there assuming their usual positions. Me, my dad, sister and niece and nephew were in the water, while my mother is closer to being a full time member of the hot tub club and watched from the warm dry sand and my brother in-law back at his perch. There were the usual tricky underwater shark moves by the adults and the constant request from the kids to be shot off like canons into the air. In a short time it was time to go in. Like a well-oiled machine from years of beach exit experience, we all grabbed something off the beach and brought it to the house.

It was bath and shower time and everyone went his or her separate way. I failed to mention that at some point during this love-fest return, I was very eager to present the firework souvenirs to my sister. Her response was just as I had imagined it and when the coast was clear, we snuck off like two children to throw the snapdragons on the side of the house out of the view of peering eyes. It was only a matter of minutes before we finished an entire box and tried to re-throw the duds.

It was now getting closer to dinnertime and my father was on sloppy joe patrol. This is one of his many notable dishes because it is always a hit with the kids. There were some other items on the menu, but my dad would be head chef for the night because everything was dependent on him. Dinner was shaping up to be quite an event. Things were looking pretty serious in there. The evening’s schedule of sloppy joes was to be followed by a premier of the footage from our travels on the big screen TV.

I felt very lucky to be able to break bread upon my return with so many special people that have been a part of this process from the beginning and will continue to be until its eventual success. We ate, we laughed, we engaged, we decompressed and we delighted. A meal tastes so much richer when made with care. No offense Waffle House. Chocolate Chip waffles you are still my friend. It was a long wonderful day and night for so many reasons. In one word, I felt love. I would eventually drift off to into a peaceful sleep.

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