You are currently browsing the daily archive for July 25, 2010.

We finally arrived at Topsail Beach yesterday afternoon – it’s good to be “home”.  I’ve stayed in this house every summer but one for the last 35 years.

Our last half day in Durham was good.  My old friend Tom and I made efforts to connect, as he was in town with his family as well, but alas, we were, as he put it, two ships passing in the night.  At least we got to talk briefly on the phone.

After a too-expensive, poorly serviced breakfast at the Washington Duke, we packed up and headed out.  Give me a diner anytime over a foo-foo breakfast – it’s like a monkey in a tuxedo. 

Our first stop was my parents’ grave.  Sounds morbid perhaps, but I hadn’t seen it since E-Bro had made the arrangements.  He had given me directions over the phone and said it was easy to find, but he must have forgotten to whom he was speaking (a.k.a. the reincarnation of Wrong Way Corrigan).  We drove around the cemetary, which had the ultra-creepy element of an open casket under a canopy at one gravesite.  We walked around the cemetary.  We tried to go to the office, which was closed on Saturdays, since that’s the busiest day for people trying to locate their dearly departed loved ones.  Finally, I stopped next to a large bearded man who looked semi-official and asked if he could help me find them.  Tom (everyone named Tom is nice, just like everyone named Dave is doomed from birth) got permission from someone, opened up the office for me, looked them up in the file cabinet, marked it down on a little map, lead us to the spot in his truck and walked us up to the grave.  He then discretely left.  What a wonderful guy.

It was a less emotional experience than I had expected.  We dusted off the grass trimmings and sat with them for a few minutes.  I got the flash of light that often accompanies my mother’s spirit, but they – meaning their spirits – are not there.  I can connect with them so much more readily in other places.  Still, I’m glad I went, just as I’m glad I went by my old home.  It was time to exorcise some ghosts.  Sometimes your fears of your own emotions are larger than the reality of those emotions.

I took Kelsea past the property of another of my childhood friends, past the old building on whose top floor I used to take ballet lessons, and past the park where my second boyfriend pulled off to pee on our first date.  Classy.

On our ongoing quest for San Pellegrino, we stopped at what used to be Fowler’s Market.  It was an institution in Chapel Hill for as long as I can remember and had opened a store in Durham about 6 years ago.  Fowler’s is completely gone now, but a small market (without groceries, but with lots of wine and stuff) has taken its place, and we did find San Pel, as well as two other mineral waters to take with us.  (And some pickle band aids, Jujubees, and Moravian gingerbread cookies).  A quick stop at the always amusing Morgan Imports to find a gift for my nephews, and we were on our way.

The drive to Topsail was easy – a couple of traffic knots along the way.  Highlights:

–  A car with a backseat FULL of burka clad women that was speeding like a crazed demon, cutting everyone off. 
–  Kelsea was sure she had spotted Miley Cyrus in a town car driving next to us.
–  The van containing Alberto Renada y les Sentimentos.
–  The bug (I hope) that created a swath of bright red blood splatter that stretched all the way across the driver’s door window.

Things have changed somewhat on the mainland as you approach the bridge to Topsail, but I guess that’s to be expected everywhere.  Sigh.  Traffic was backed up for over a mile to turn onto Hwy 50.  The little cabin at the corner of Hwy 210 and Hwy 50 that was overgrown and ramshackle has been torn down – along with the 6 acres of woods that surrounded it.  It’s being developed.  I found it ironic that they left ONE magnolia tree standing.  They’ll probably call whatever they build there Magnolia Acres.  I gave them an extreme Bronx Cheer.

The Docksider, an island institution and the site of many happy hours shopping, arcading, feeding fish and riding the little kiddie rides outside, is closed – actually, foreclosed.  If only I could buy it and restore it to its former self.  Now, I will not be able to play Whack-A-Gator, which was my favorite.  I think they had the only remaining Galaga machine, too – I was an expert at that during my pizza days.

But once you drive over the swing bridge, it is like passing into another dimension.  It’s as if you cast off the weights of your life into the Intercoastal Waterway (which I taught Kelsea to say when she was 2).  Most of our favorite familiar places are still there – The Crab Pot, the Surf City IGA, Batts Grill, the old Assembly Building.  There are more and more oceanfront two-story houses with too few windows, but I guarantee that they will be gone come the first big hurricane – the island had a target on it for years, and it has been years since it has taken a direct hit – I think we’re overdue.

The Beach Shop, the Gift Basket, the Quarter Moon Bookstore, the Jolly Roger Fishing Pier and Motel all stand welcoming us.  The little arcade, which was up for sale, is no longer for sale and appears to have been rescued from its fate of becoming grist for the developers, at least for a while. 

We arrived home, unloaded, unpacked, started laundry and went to Homeport for dinner, stopping at Mr. Godwin’s store for essentials for the morning, and dropping by the Beach Shop to say hi to Annabelle, the famous island bulldog. 

Home and pajamaed, we played a few rousing games of Parcheesi, watched a little TV and went to bed happy and tired.  We share my old bedroom here – I still sleep in the same twin bed, and now Kelsea sleeps in the other twin.

We’ve agreed that this is the end of Cycle 1 of the Excellent Adventure Roadtrip, which we define as the drive from Colorado to Topsail.  Our stay here will be defined as Cycle 1.5, since we are not driving; our drive home will be Cycle 2.  She sleeps still this morning, while I’ve already had a quick road run and done my sit-ups.  The tide is high and the beach is narrow and the sun is shining.  Almost perfect.

July 2010


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