More Than a Memory

Rough, salty waves poured over our heads into the tiny blue raft that was struggling to keep us afloat. Water crashed in our faces as we were dragged further out to sea. My sister and I were screaming with delight as Baxter kept a firm grip on the fraying rope that tugged us into the surf. He leapt through the water pulling the inner tube and it’s passengers behind him warning, “The Nazi’s are coming! Quick, we need to escape!” Vicious waves tumbled us preventing us from fleeing from our enemy quick enough. We couldn’t take the salt stinging our eyes or being shaken about like a washing machine for a second longer Baxter, giving in, released his clutches on the inner tube’s rope, and watched as my sister and I floated off to our doom.

Clearly, there were no Nazi’s after us and we were in no sense of danger at all; however we had vivid imaginations as youngsters. My imagination ran it’s wildest when I brought it along on trips to Topsail Island, NC. This little North Carolinian Island was a massive part of my childhood. When I recall my happiest memories, I picture myself covered in sand. Sunburned faces of my family members (and what I like to call my second family) instantly come to mind when I look back on these vacations at my home away from home. Sandy King has been my parent’s best friend since college. They vacationed at the beach house during their school years, but they couldn’t wait to have kids to tag along. Ms. Sandy has two boys, Porter and Baxter. Believe it or not, Porter is currently 19 and Baxter just turned 18.

My younger sister and I really enjoy having two older brother-like figures like Porter and Baxter. They have been an essential part of my life since I was born. The four of us were so inseparable that we thought we were cousins. I’ll never forget the dinner conversation when our parents had to set us straight and tell us there was no blood relation. It was truly devastating. We looked forward to making that two and a half hour drive out to our favorite vacation spot as often as we could. Minutes could not tick away any slower as turning tires brought us closer to our destination inch by inch. Our excitement couldn’t be contained. I am certain mom and dad got annoyed with us calling Porter and Baxter in the other car every five minutes to see where they were. In the final minutes of our road trip I remembered why the leg cramps were worth it.

Hearing the familiar crunch of rubber tires making contact with gravel in the driveway painted a smile on my face from ear to ear. Finally, I thought. Once my dad announced “We hee!” I couldn’t unbuckle my seatbelt fast enough. Making eye contact with the boys in the other car before throwing the door open, I slipped on my shoes and prepared to keep up with my excited companions. Eight tiny feet simultaneously kicked open car doors, crossed the driveway, and headed for the house. We raced up the splintery, wooden stairs as fast as our short legs could take us, enthusiastically screaming the whole way. Bounding across the deck, getting a whiff of the salty air, while seeing the crashing waves in the distance is the most refreshing feeling I have experienced since my last visit. For a moment we would just stand on the edge of the deck and take it all in. Then, we would climb up on the deck’s railing together, bend our knees in preparation, and leap off into the sand below screaming “EAGLE!” I can tell you I am not sure the reason for this tradition, but I am pretty sure it will carry on for a while.

After hauling all the suitcases to our designated rooms, having a simple dinner, and playing a competitive game of dominos, we sat around impatiently waiting for it to get dark enough for ghost crab hunting. As soon as we couldn’t see down the beach any longer, we grabbed all the flashlights we could find and headed for the water’s edge. The beach is lit by the moon reflecting on the ocean and the beams of our light shooting in every direction. Suspense is always constant. You never know when a crab with its beady eyes is going cross your path. Porter, Baxter, and the boys up and down the beach usually had the honor of catching the little critters. Ghost crabs are the main creature I associate with my trips to Topsail. Just thinking of the way they scampered to the water as we chased them with our flashlights brings all these pleasant memories flooding back.

After a long first night at the beach, waking up to the sound of screeching seagulls and waves crashing was a sign it was going to be a good day. Once breakfast was cleaned up, pj’s were shed for bathing suits, and sunblock was applied. We darted out the sliding glass door ignoring our parents calling after us. Once our bare feet felt the comforting feeling of the warm sand, there was no force that could drag us away from our favorite kind of playground. We spent our days digging holes in front of the house to either turn into forts or fill with water for our caught minnows. Having the blazing sun beating down on you all morning can only be tolerated for so long. By midday we were soaking wet with salt water. We passed the time boogie boarding, skim boarding, floating in rafts, and trying to avoid the treacherous crashing waves. There was never a dull moment in our aquatic wonderland. We had access to an open ocean and our imagination, what more could a kid at the beach ask for?

As it grew dark, we became quiet and our moods started to decline from what they were when we started out our day. The sight of the setting sun and Ms. Sandy’s famous two fingered whistle heard in the distance indicated that our fun-filled day was coming to an end. Water logged and sunburned, we dragged ourselves up to the house with our heads down. Exhaustion began to settle in as we showered and got ready for bed after such a long day beneath the sun. The days seemed to repeat themselves, but each day would bring a new adventure at the same time.

Shoving sandy clothes in our suitcases gives us time to reflect on another memorable trip to add to the filing cabinet in the back of our minds. As we load up the cars to head back to Cary, we realize that this brings a different feeling upon the group then unpacking just a few days before. Making the journey home is bitter sweet. I know I had such a great time and that it couldn’t last forever. Now we can carry these images of our experiences in our heads wherever life takes us. It’s somewhat reassuring knowing that these memories will never be lost and can be accessed whenever I want to go back and reminisce on my favorite childhood moments.

These memories are so special to me due to the people that take part in them. I’m aware that my family will be a part of my whole life, but the juvenile years are a valuable time to spend with relatives and close friends. Porter has now graduated high school and has made a decision to join the marines. In our teenage years, the four of us have drifted apart. The one thing that will never be altered is the childhood memories that we will always share. With Porter leaving soon, it means so much to me to have these wonderful times to look back on with to put a smile on my face. Reflecting on all the times we’ve spent together takes me back to my happiest time in life and I am thankful to take these feelings with me wherever I go. I’d like to think of these experiences as something more than memories. They are pieces of who I am that will never leave me. My childhood, long ago, began to form who I’m starting to become.





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback