Wish you were here

~~ Originally printed in The Chapel Hill (NC) Weekly, July 2012 ~~

I’ve been coming to the Big Apple, Scott McLean’s oceanfront house in Pawleys Island, SC, since I was about 12.

There isn’t any central heat or air. All the windows and doors are open, but it’s hot in the morning because of the land breeze. And because biscuits are baking. But soon the oven will be turned off and the wind will turn, too, and start blowing in from the sea. The hammock on the second floor screened-in porch is the coolest spot this time of day. The kids go there to practice for the annual talent show. They have got talent, and much of it involves skewering the adults with spot-on impressions.

Bailey’s taking surf lessons down the beach, on the other side of the pier. Caleb’s walking Cooper, the little dog. At the point he’ll look for our favorite treasures: jingles and cats’ paws and Pawleys Island shells. He’s always got his eyes open for sharks and starfish and crabs, too.

Blake is reading a novel on the porch swing. The Big Apple doesn’t have a television.

The tide has been going out in the mornings and staying low all day, and the waves are crashing nicely with only a bit of pull to the current. In a little while everyone will grab their boogie boards and inner tubes and head down to the water.

Afternoon means a trip to Supply to see if the shrimp truck is there, or else we’ll go to the seafood market to see what’s fresh. After dinner it’s time to take our wine glasses out to watch the moonrise over the ocean until the kids are finished doing the dishes. There’s no dishwasher here, either, so it can be quite a chore. Once that’s done, though, we’ve got a watermelon that’s good and iced down. We’ll eat it out on the deck – a sweet reward.

We will go through about 80 ounces of sunscreen and eight pounds of barbeque. Entertain ourselves with a dance party and a talent show. Completely lose track of our shoes. Play poker and iMAgiNiff. Watch seabirds dive and playful porpoises jump. Fall asleep slicked with sweat and wake up at some point chilled by the night air.

And at the end of our week here, we will go back to our regularly-scheduled, air-conditioned, shoe-wearing lives, already looking forward to coming back next year.

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