About a week ago, I received some welcoming news. I found out that my family had been granted vacation time this summer at my favorite place in the world; a very modest cottage on the east coast.
A bit of back-story is required. This house belongs to our distant cousins Uncle Frank and Aunt Gina. They have been planning to tear down the cottage and rebuild another for a couple of years now. It has been implied that once the house is torn down, our part of the family would no longer get vacation time there. This has been hinted at for one main reason.
A few years ago my mother and her siblings bought their own vacation home. Since we have our own resort now, we shouldn't take vacation time from Gina and Frank's family. There is a big problem however: I don't really care for the vacation home my family bought. I know I sound like a spoiled brat for saying this, but hear me out.
There are several reasons why I don't like it. For simplicity's sake, we’ll call Frank and Gina's place Utopia, and my family's place The Outhouse.
The Outhouse is in the middle of nowhere. It is bordered by nothing more than farms. They bought it cause it was a cheap waterfront property. However, the thrifty attitude was short-lived. You can't spend more than a weekend there because you would go insane. My family tried to curb this boredom by dumping money into it. The water that it is on is a shallow, stagnant creek. You cannot swim in it. You need an aquatic vehicle to take you out to the main water. They bought jet skis, a hot tub, a boat, canoes and a paddleboat. Now this may seem enticing, my mom has forbidden me from using most of these objects. Without the boat, we cannot go out into the open water to swim. The water vehicles are necessary to engage aquatic play. To do anything worthwhile is a trek, including going to the store (a 45 minute drive).
Lastly, the place does not have Internet. This normally would not matter for me at a vacation home, except that there is nothing to do there. Also, the only way I could see myself using this place would be as a writing seclusion. Unfortunately, most of my writing requires research on the Internet, so there is pretty much no reason for me to go there.
Utopia is almost the complete opposite of The Outhouse. It has none of the aforementioned amenities of The Outhouse, and this is a good thing. "Why," you ask? Because it doesn't need any of those silly frills.
The house is just a one-minute walk from the beach on the Atlantic Ocean. All you need to enjoy the water is a bathing suit and a boogie board. It is so blissfully simple. You barely need a car down at this place. Almost everything is in walking distance. There is a plethora of bars, restaurants and attractions, all within close proximity. Additionally, if you just want to relax and have a peaceful night at home, the house has a beautiful and quiet backyard. When we are down there, we spend more time in the backyard than in the house.
Utopia is so simplistic it is downright charming. The house has no washer/dryer, no dishwasher, and one of the two full bathrooms is on the outside of the house. When you are down there, you realize how meaningless some of the "modern conveniences" are. There is little need for a washer/dryer in a vacation home. We make of game of washing our own dishes. Few people will ever know the pleasure of watching a mother bird feed her babies and listening to the ocean breeze while taking a shower. When I'm at the house, I feel closer to the city life, to nature and to my family.
When I'm up there, I couldn't give a flying frock about not having Internet access. There is so much to do to keep myself occupied. Plus, there is an Internet cafe in walking distance.
But most importantly, it is where all my best childhood memories were made. It's the place where our family walnut tree is planted. It's the place where my late grandfather and I used catch crabs off the dock across the street. It's the place where he taught me how to solve crossword puzzles. The boardwalk is the place where I would play skeeball until the whole family was completely out of quarters. It was the last place my cousins got to spend time with their loving father, my Uncle Mark. He died of a heart attack a day after driving home. When I'm there, I feel closer to my Uncle Mark and my Poppop. It's the place where I walk the beach at night, and I feel a hint of the eternal peace that they now dwell in.
So back to last week's news. Up until last week, I was sure that last year was going to be our final year in Utopia. When I found out, I was very excited, but apprehensive. I was pretty sure I had found out too late. My boss told me that we had to request our summer vacation time several months in advance. Nevertheless, I requested a week off, and to my luck it was granted. As it turns out, no one else had asked for time off that week, so it was one of the few weeks in the summer that wasn't blacked out.
So here I am now, stocking up on sunscreen and bug spray. I've already started packing, even though the trip is weeks away. I'm excitedly counting down the days.