I crossed the bridge into Stone Harbor and it happened just like it has every time since I first started coming here at the age of one or two. My heart soared but my heart rate slowed. My body relaxed as if it recognized home. When I'm here, my brain teems with ideas, but rejects tension. It's magical.
My husband started commenting on my yearly transformation after his first few summers here with me. In the beginning he had compared this quaint town to the upscale Hamptons where he'd worked as a teen. (Frankly, he was rather elitist-sounding, given that his time in the Hamptons had been spent cooking hotdogs and sleeping at the golf club's halfway house)!
Our beaches aren't long, private affairs. They come and go depending on the years' storms. But they are inviting and they are where I've walked with my folks, my friends, my loves, my children, as well as my many selves for close to 50 years.
When I was little, we rented a house on 104th St. It was just one house from the beach. I remember its garage had been converted into a small guest suite connected to the house by a breezeway. That's where my great-grandmother, Nana, stayed. I was sitting there with her the time my brother somehow "cracked his head open" at the miniature golf course.
When I was six, we went down one January weekend to find a rental for the coming summer. It was freezing in the house, and mom must have taken us back to sit in the car to stay warm. My father came back outside with the realtor to ask if she liked that house. When she confirmed, he replied " I just bought it". Good thing she said yes.
There were only a few times in his life that my dad made big spontaneous decisions. He was a careful, methodical, practical man who prided himself on both his Scottish heritage and approach to spending. Yet, once in a while he would do something bold that seemed out of character and I think that half the motivation must have been the sheer glee he took in surprising us. Funny, as I look back, even those seemingly impulsive investments ended up paying off big time.
I have this sneaking suspicion that despite his deliberateness, my Dad had a bit of intuition. Maybe that's where I get mine. He must have known that his $30,000 investment in 1967 would pay dividends far beyond just financial gains. My happiest memories are from the shore. From doing handstands on the beach, playing Harriet the Spy in town, earning my Copper Kettle Fudge money via a carefully mapped public pay phone change-receptacle route, landing my first job at 14 at The Black-Eyed Susan Shop where I learned the hard lessons of paycheck versus pay for layaway. Stone Harbor was also the site of my first dance, first date, first boyfriend, first hangover, first apartment, first roommate, first broken heart.
As I walked the beach today, and thought about it all, I realized how many stories I have from this one seven mile island. This looks to be the first of many. Hope you'll bear with me.