Thursday, February 19, 2009
My father was a high school teacher and my mother was a stay at home mom, so when I was growing up the whole family had the whole summer off. How sweet is that? It gets sweeter. Pretty much every summer of my life, growing up, with very few exceptions, we spent three or four weeks in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I have such happy memories of my summers at the beach.
Since retiring, my parents have been going to Myrtle Beach every winter. For a week, then two, then a month, then two, next year they'll be there a full three months. They've always wanted to recreate those family vacations, but my sister and I have kids and there's school and jobs and blah blah blah and it just isn't so easy for us to get away in the middle of the winter.
A couple months ago, my sister told me she and her family were going to drive down in their motor home over President's Day weekend. I expressed jealousy. She said, "come along". I said my kids would die of jealousy. She said, "bring 'em". And I did.
My parents, my mother in particular, were very happy that we'd finally all be together at "our" beach again. I was just happy to see the beach in February. Which is not my favorite. February, that is, not the beach. The beach is totally my favorite.
Myrtle Beach has changed a lot since I was there last (25 years ago or so! Yikes!). I was hard pressed to recognize anything. It was a little bittersweet. In the last 25 years it has become very commercial. By the end of our long weekend I was longing for a meal in a restaurant that was not attached to a gift shop.
I gave some money to the Hard Rock Cafe. Because I always do. Because I am a sucker. We had an awesome Hard Rock experience, though. I went with my daughters and my niece. We weren't going for a meal, just to spend money and browse. So we got there at 10:00 am when the gift shop was open and the restaurant wasn't. The girl in the gift shop said we were free to poke around. So we did. We had the run of the whole place. We were able to look at all of the memorabilia without feeling like we were interrupting anyone's meal. It was awesome. I touched Joe Perry's guitar. Oh yes I did. And, to the delight of my young charges, I squeeeed right out loud like the squealy fangirl that I am.
We also gave some money to the KISS Coffeehouse, because you never know when Gene Simmons is gonna run out of money. I don't want to be the one responsible if they can't afford to indulge Shannon Tweed's next whim. Also, Tom was in the KISS Army, and he was the only one not with us on this trip. It was the obvious place to pick up some overpriced souvenirs for him. Also, it was fun, in a completely silly sort of way.
Thank goodness for the Gay Dolphin. Now THIS was something I recognized. A landmark from my youth. And it had not changed at all. I swear, I think some of the merchandise may have even been the same stuff that was there then. It was tacky and cheap and a little dirty and ridiculously comforting.
I witnessed every sunrise, only this time I didn't watch them alone. We had a beautiful view right from our condo window, and I enjoyed that, but better than that were the mornings when the kids wanted to go down and watch the sun rise from the beach. It was so awesome to watch the little ones running free on the empty beach and picking up shells while the eldest took the time to be introspective.
Another reason my mother was so excited about our visit is that it gave us the opportunity to celebrate her birthday with her for the first time in many many years. Her birthday and my aunts birthday fall pretty close together, so they always celebrate at Myrtle Beach. Although our visit was a little early, we got them a cake and had a little surprise celebration in my sisters camper. They were so happy. It made the whole trip worthwhile.
I think if we can swing it, I'd like to do it again. I think I'd actually like that a lot.