Recently, we found out that my dad and his brother ended up selling my Grandma’s beach house in the Outer Banks. I think we all knew it had to happen, but deep down, I held the smallest hope that we would all chip in, fix it up, and continue making memories there as our families grew.
Honestly, it was a dream to make that happen. The beach house had seen better days, and it would have taken a lot more than some elbow grease and hard work to make it livable. At this point in our lives, I don’t think any of us could have taken it in–we’re starting families, paying off loans, saving to buy a house–none of us were really in a position to make that happen.
Still, though, I grieve for the loss of our beach house, and it makes me think of the other places you can never go back. We can go back to the Outer Banks–we can even go back to practically the same street as the beach house, because my uncle has a place there now. But we can’t go back to the place where we spent all of our summer vacations. The place where I learned to play poker betting double stuf oreos; the place where my brother spit out bazooka joe bubble gum on the roof of the covered porch, and it remained there for years and years; the place where I learned to both fear and love the ocean; the place where I was when I got my first job offer after college; the place where Matt and I discovered we hated kayaking.
There are always places we can’t go back. I can’t go back to Williamsburg, where my grandparents lived, and where my family and I spent summers and holidays visiting. I no longer feel like a local when I go there–the girl who would roll her eyes at tourists and could show you the best route possible for hitting all the rides at Busch Gardens. I feel like a visitor in a place that seems distantly familiar.
I can’t go back to the Blacksburg I knew in college, where my biggest stress was finals week and all my friends were a five minute walk or drive away. The problem with these places is, sometimes, we think we can go back. We return again and again, trying to recreate what we won’t admit is lost. I spent at least a year making monthly trips to Blacksburg, convincing myself that I could live in Winchester but still be part of that campus life.
Most of us have gone through at least one major life change kicking and screaming the whole way. I know that I have a tendency to fight change with every breath I take, until I’m exhausted and suddenly realize that it’s good for me. Eventually, I will accept this, too, and these memories won’t hold as much power over my emotions as they do now.