For more than 20 years, with only a couple of interruptions, my family has done a summer beach week in the Outer Banks. We’ve rented houses all over the place down there (as I type I’m subconsciously rewriting the lyrics to “I’ve Been Everywhere” and swapping in names like Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores, Kill Devil…) but we’ve spent the last bunch of years in Corolla. It’s become my happy place — as much a soothing thought as a geographic location. My favorite pizza place and bar are there, and it’s hard to get to, which is good, because it keeps us from making plans that would require driving.
What I didn’t realize until this year is how much of that happy place feeling had to do with the luxury of being a kid.
My aunt always buys the best junk food, my mom graciously covers her kids’ share of the house, my sister and I would stay up as late as we wanted after parents and aunts and uncles fell asleep…
This year was different. My sister, the two cousins who go on this trip and I all had kids within the last two years, and now we’re the parents. We’re buying specific types of milk and applesauce and learning about the limitations of swim diapers (they catch poop and… um… let everything else through). We’re figuring out who is going to watch the baby monitor during which nap and trying to keep from laughing when Baby YHT looks us straight in the eye and licks sand off her hand. It’s an undeniably positive but incredibly heavy development — heavier than I saw coming.
This whole deal and some surface-level parallels were in my mind this morning when I chose this week’s CD, and the album’s title track hit me hard and square on the way to work. I just about broke down when I heard Rhiannon Giddens sing “I can’t tell my daughters all the things that I’m scared of.” Sometimes it’s especially hard to be the grown-up.