We're on vacation this week and there are so many opportunities for new stories. To start, there's the setting. Duck, North Carolina is a slip of a town comprised of souvenir shops, bakeries, ice cream stores, coffee shops and pizza places. Nary a grocery store in sight, but you can eat fresh fish by the water at several unique little restaurants. Duck Donuts makes donuts right in front of you starting at 6 a.m. if you're one of those early riser types like my husband.
With the sound on one side, a gently rolling blue carpet of water, where crabs can be pulled off docks to dance for you, and the ocean just four blocks the other way, Duck is a paradise even with June winds whipping about. The sea here is choppy and green with dark red sand. Shells are chopped into bits before they reach the shore.
The houses here are small and tall, each meandering up four stories, saving their kitchens for the top floor, I suppose to keep the most expensive equipment dry in case of flooding. Hot tubs, private pools and sand volleyball courts guard each structure and multi-layered decks hug them for dear life.
Stories, of course, are usually more than just place, but the people who fill that place up and make it their own. We are a rag-tag group of six. My husband, me and the kids. We're a blended family, maybe more chopped at times, always searching for a combination of desires and outcomes that suits the whole, and sometimes landing on a moment of pure bliss somewhere in the equation.
I wonder sometimes what the shopkeepers think of us as we pile into their stalls. Two dark-haired children, two-fair haired children. I doubt the shopkeepers could match the children to the correct one of us, but then you never know. I always think they assume we created them all together. They range in ages from 16 to 8. Each is a story into themselves, full of mischief and joy and the moment of genius. Each is a blessing beyond anything I ever imagined in my life. And of course, we didn't create them really. Us and our former spouses, all we did was give them entry to this world and all we can do now is love them and guide them. Enjoy these waning moments where they sometimes still feel like they belong to us. Because they belong to themselves of course, so much of their stories still unwritten.
We wonder about this land outside of responsibilities and work, gazing at others trying to determine their stories. The boy at the beach yesterday, the one that Sam chased a crab right into, he looked to be about 15. Perhaps those older folks were his parents. Maybe they waited years to have him and now as older parents fairly worship him, spoiling him terribly. Maybe he had young parents, unable to take care of him, and his grandparents were the couple lying on the towels, applying sunblock and scowling at the errant crab scuttling across their blankets. They never intended to raise a child at this stage of their lives, but they love him and they give him all they can.
What is the story of the woman walking ahead of her husband, brandishing a stick like a sword and pretending she doesn't hear him yelling for her to slow down? Her neon blue hat is visible from three houses away. Is she angry, wishing she could stab him with that sword, perhaps for cheating on her with a housemaid back in their native New York? Is she simply bored, imagining a time when she was slimmer, more adept and could fence her way through a sea of competitors at a tournament in Texas?
What was the gruff, whiskered older man at the bait shop thinking when he winked at a Alysia and said softly, "You're a very pretty little girl." Perhaps of a granddaughter too far away to wink at or a daughter now grown to adulthood living her own life out there somewhere. Or perhaps he was thinking of a painting he saw once or a television show. Or maybe he was just struck by the quiet little girl watching her brother gather fishing gear with avid interest.
I so love vacation for the relaxing moments, for the time spent with family and for the stories to be.