Monday, November 1, 2010


Wrightsville Beach, NC 34º12.39N | 77º48W

I'm not sure how the mice did with their best laid plans today, but ours were foiled by unexpected winds. Our intention was to make Southport, which required a carefully planned crossing of the Cape Fear River.

Instead, knowing the high wind in the wrong direction would make the Cape Fear fearful, we opted for a short trip to Carolina Beach, poised to make a dash for the river tomorrow morning as the tide goes out.

I guess it should come as no surprise that water would make you reflective, but I was caught unawares when I stepped onto Carolina Beach just before sunset.

Eighteen years ago, at a similar transition point in my life, I walked onto this very same beach a few miles north of here and had my first glimpse of the Atlantic. It was a moment that packed enough punch to not only engrave itself in my memory but to come rushing back all these years later.

As the tumbleweed in a family of oak trees, a desert child who longed for the ocean, I have rarely felt a sense of belonging, but when I dipped my foot into the Atlantic that warm September day, it was like looking at that floor plan at the mall, only my huge arrow said, "You are SUPPOSED TO BE here."

"How does it feel?" Chip asked me on this occasion, 18 years and one month later.

"Real," I said. "How many times have we come to the ocean, wishing for this moment?"

"I feel like I've been given everything," Chip said. "It makes me anxious. I just don't want mess it up, leave it out in the rain."

"Like sinking the boat in Beaufort?"

"Yeah, like that."

The sweet weight of victory.

Carolina Beach, NC 34º03.556N | 77º53.285W

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