Sitting here warming my hands on a hot cup of coffee, I look out the picture window in my living room as the weather man says it might snow this weekend. This isn’t unusual for January in Ohio, but for me, my heart is 900 miles away from where the smell of salty sea air is present.
This time last year, I was readying my family for a long and much-needed weekend at Topsail Island. I was stressed out and burnt out on life. I needed this trip more than anyone. I wasn’t disappointed.
Tucking the fleece throw around my legs, I can remember the trip like it was yesterday. When we arrived, it was chillier than we had anticipated. Being that close to the ocean, there is always a breeze flowing from the sea that I hadn’t accounted for. It was raining, not hard, but a soft mist that added to the serenity of the weekend.
The island was quiet except for the seafaring birds and the occasional rhythm of a boat tapping its mooring on the pier behind the hotel. The room was simple. No telephone, no VCR or cable TV. But why would you need them when you are there to escape the everyday?
For a brief moment, you are transported to a different time and place that, once it gets in your veins, you are never the same. The hand-held video games my children carry around were replaced with a shovel and bucket.
Everything is simpler on Topsail, and that is a good thing.
As I sip on my coffee and inhale its aroma, I am brought back to the smell of the salty air and the sounds of the waves lapping up the shores as I walked down the long stretch of beach that lines Topsail Island. It was warm enough that I explored the beach in my bare feet, but still too cool to walk too close to the water’s edge.
Every now and then I would get brave and go look for shells where the white foam of the waves touched the sand. I would let the chilly water encircle my ankles as it filled in the area of my footprints that I had just left on the shore. Once in a while, my son would venture to the soft sands as I squealed with delight whenever the water would reach up and grab his feet.
This is what life is all about.
We walked all over the island exploring every road and discussing the beauty and individuality of every house we walked past. We wondered what the story was behind each of their unique names. It was quiet and peaceful and it felt as if we had the whole island to ourselves. It wasn’t as if anyone was there, it was because we were so enthralled with everything around us.
It was only us walking down those streets in the misty rain.
We ended each day with dinner at a local seafood restaurant. Topsail Island was where I first tasted scallops and wondered why I hadn’t tried this melt-in-your-mouth seafood before.
We stuffed ourselves on shrimp and hush puppies. My son’s face, covered in crumbs of batter and a light glow of grease, made my heart glow. You can’t bottle that kind of joy watching him eat hush puppies for the first time. He ate so many I was sure he would explode.
We also did our rounds of the souvenir shops around the island. We couldn’t leave without getting something that would help us hold onto this weekend.
Walking the rows of seashell lamps and t-shirts, we each chose something that would help keep the memory of this weekend fresh in our mind. My son picked a magnet with “I’d rather be on Topsail” on it. My husband chose a sweatshirt that he pulls out whenever it gets cold to feel a little warmer on the inside as well as
outside. I chose salt water taffy.
Granted the taffy is long gone, but the sweet memories remain.
All photos by Shannon Anicas.