My family has always rented a house on the beach in the last weeks of August, and, recently, the first week of September. Which leaves all of us, essentially, counting the days until summer ends.
This most recent Maine session was especially poignant for me since we've been living in France and missed last summer's beach session. On the drive from Vermont to Maine, I found myself getting overly nostalgic several times.
The whole trip, including stopping at a diner for pancakes, was like a surreal cruise down memory lane. (I could hear Carly Simon's Anticipation playing in the background when we ordered breakfast.)
In two different towns, I saw girls in sweat pants carrying field hockey sticks, walking through the late- August morning light on their way to practice.
I passed through the town where I spent my Freshman year at college, before transferring back to a Vermont state college. I tried hard to remember what compelled me, other than my first love, who was back in Vermont, to choose young love over access to the Atlantic.
I don't regret the boyfriend. He was everything a first love should be, and more. But, in perfectly-lucid hindsight, I should have made the boy come to me. (Just one of the many ways I habitually put my needs second.) I can only hope my daughters will be wiser in love than I was.
When the big bridge that crosses the bay in Portsmouth came into view and I-- exactly as my father always did when we five, carsick children were all crammed into the car amongst the suitcases and styrofoam coolers-- grandly announced that we were crossing the border into Maine. But I couldn't get through my sentence. I was choking on something.
It was gratitude. A deluge of gratitude. How lucky I was to be sharing this all with my kids. The exact same experience, right down to the ceremonial crossing of the bridge, minus the overstuffed car and the smoking father, that I lived as a child.
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