There are places in people's lives where they feel at their best, or at least where they feel truly comfortable right down to their bones. Charlottesville is one of those places for me. Easton/Eastern Shore is becoming one very quickly. This post is about the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the destination of many a week off during my adult life, and a place where I reach zenstates of relaxation.
I drove from Raleigh to Manteo NC yesterday afternoon, just a shade under 200 miles. For the last 60 or so, a driver is confronted with billboard after billboard of advertisements of the wonders of the Outer Banks, a barrier island likely created by a hurricane or hurricanes over the centuries. They are the kind of billboards that I'm sure Lady Bird Johnson tried to eliminate throughout the South, but what they do for me as I drive is to create a slowly mounting sense of longing--longing for the long hot days of Outer Banks vacations, midday naps, wide beaches and wicked storms. Yesterday was particularly poignant, as I haven't been back to there since (I think) the Summer of 2009. In 2010, we went to St. John on our Summer trip, in 2011 we didn't go anywhere--as our renovation was gobbling up chunks of money and we had originally planned on a "stay-cation" with our pool--which didn't get built until the fall. Instead, I took my vacation in Des Moines, Iowa, volunteering for the Romney Campaign. Interesting stuff, but not an Outer Banks week.
The air is different there--it's almost always a little humid, which is fine by me. I love the fact that I sorta know where I am, where to get things I need, where to eat, and what to avoid. What I love most though, is the degree to which my life changes when I'm there. It represents for me calm and slow, as if my heart rate decreases and my breathing gets deeper.
I need some Outer Banks; one day was not enough. It was lovely, especially when the storm kicked up. But I need more. I don't think I'll get any until next Summer, but I'll keep thinking about it in the meantime.