Originally published August 2014
As I walked up the stairs from the basement today, I decided to do something I haven't done the last three summers. I piled beach towels on the bed, found our raincoats in the attic, and began gathering my kitchen essentials to start packing for our Cape trip. We leave in three days. This was my routine for many a summer. I would start preparing for our annual trip to North Truro a week in advance. We waited all year for those two coveted weeks to escape from it all. Back when we first started going, cellphones were just coming into popularity, and we didn't yet feel the need for them. A few summers later, when we finally had them, reception was very intermittent all the way out there. It was easy to unplug. As time went on, it became more challenging, but we were determined to preserve that old Cape magic.
The first summer we went without the Mr. was just two weeks after he died. Looking back, I don't know how I even managed it. I just remember knowing that he would be there waiting for me; that is what made me so certain that we had to go.
The years that followed, 2012 and 2013, we went because I couldn't imagine not going. It was hard being there, but the idea of not going seemed harder. Much as I tried to move forward, I wasn't ready to say goodbye. And so, packing for those trips was always done hastily, usually the night before. My motto became "so long as I have my girls, I can buy whatever I forgot".
This time it's different, though, and I can't quite put it into words. Could it be that three is a magic number? A portal, perhaps, in which my heart and mind are now truly willing to listen to the words etched on my arms?
In years past, we needed that trip to seek refuge from a place we no longer felt comfortable living in. New York City had become akin to a favorite shirt, you know the one you can't bare to part with, regardless of the too-tight fit, faded color, and maybe even a few holes in it. New York had become our golden boy, gentrification fraying the edges of our beloved city.
This year, though, it is not refuge or escape I'm seeking. I've found that in our new home. I sit on my front porch at night, serenaded by cicadas as I read. When I kiss our girls on the top of their heads, as they tumble inside, the scent of dirt and fresh air tickles my nose. This summer we are not running away from something, perhaps therein lies the difference.
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