When the Beach is Your Backyard

When the beach is your backyard

– Clarissa G., marketing coordinator

when the beach is your backyard

Every summer, our beach fills up with tourists from across the country, sometimes even across the globe. People from all walks of life come to our coast to experience the majestic Atlantic Ocean. It’s beautiful to witness (maybe not from the end of the line at Food Lion on the weekend) so many different families coming together to appreciate the spectacular sights and activities that we call home. Families come and spend a week on vacation after dreaming about it for months, sometimes years. But then the end of the week comes before they know it. Bags are packed, sand is shook out of the floor mats, home addresses are entered into navigation systems, and suddenly the island has a peaceful echo of emptiness to it. It’s surprising how quiet the island is during the off-season, compared to the thrumming pulse of summer. Many people ask me what it’s like to “live at the beach.” I personally live nearby, about 30 minutes away. I have lived on and off the island, and although I loved being able to walk out my back door and into the sand, it’s more affordable to live inland. I’m originally from the Midwest, so 30 minutes is a plenty close drive to the beach for me.  I feel like this is truly “home” for me after twelve years of living here.

Getting to see saltwater on a daily basis never gets old. I thought surely, after so many years, it would get less exciting. It’s different now… seeing the beach and the coast is settling. Like I can take a deep breath and be completely grounded. When I’m away and return, the smell of salt air just seems ‘right’ and smells like home. I’m still perfectly happy to stare at the waves for hours, sifting through the sand for shells and generally behaving like a big kid as soon as my feet hit the sand.

I do feel like my appreciation for the coast has changed as I’ve made it my ‘home.’ Now instead of seeing the coast as a destination or attraction, it feels like a beautiful, priceless piece of art and I’m lucky enough to get to work in the gallery every day. Everyone comes to appreciate it and see it, photograph it and share it with others. I get to see it in all seasons; covered in snow, blown apart by a hurricane, flooded by noreaster rains and covered with sea oats waving in the hot summer breeze. I still get excited for people to experience it for the first time. I am ecstatic for families to reunite from across the country while they’re here and make priceless memories with their children. I get frustrated when people treat it poorly and leave the beach full of trash, cigarettes and deep holes dug in the sand. I hope that everyone remembers to disconnect, let go and relax while they’re here. I love seeing the winter sunsets over the ocean. I am grateful to be able to wake up on a Saturday morning and decide the spend the day sunning and shelling on Shackleford Banks. I look forward to simple things like the yellow butterflies at the end of the summer and knowing that means I can sit on the pier and watch the fishermen haul up a cooler full of fish over an afternoon.

Sure, it can be more expensive to live at the beach. But having this beautiful work of Mother Nature mere moments away and getting to be a part of once-in-a-lifetime experiences for families from across the country is a benefit that can’t be measured in dollars.