I’m asked often these days– aren’t you going to miss it?
I have a fluid sense of nostalgia when it comes to places and things. Minus a few sacred items (my velvet blue sofa, my soft pillow pet, the fuzziest bathrobe I so adore) they are just things. They are there to set the scene. They mark a moment in time.
The house where I grew up. The freshman dorm where our eyes first met. Our apartment in Southie, fresh out of college. The farmhouse we brought our babies home to. These places all play a role. They are titles of chapters in my favorite book–the book that’s still being written.
Six years ago we moved here on a whim. Our kids roamed free like true Plummers. Summers were hot. Winters were long. Sunbleached hair and wind-whipped faces. We dreamt our vacation cottage into something more grand. We burrowed in and made it our shell.
I’ve always believed the ocean is a place for healing. And if I had to name this chapter it would be just that. Healing Haven. No- Silence In the Storm. No- Beachside Bombshell! (Captivating!) Okay– it’s a working title.
Our time here had great purpose. And unbeknownst to us when we arrived, it would become a place to reflect and mend. A place to find our footing in the sand. Since living here we’ve closed businesses and launched new careers. We’ve transitioned schools. We’ve endured the loss of loved ones and hung our heads in grief. We’ve recovered from surgery, sifted through sorrow and soldiered on. We learned to weather the storm.
But between those bombogenesis bomb cycles we–had A FREAKIN’ BLAST! A Polar Vortex of fun! (I’ll stop.) Although there is no real way to put into word what this magical place has provided, I will try. After all, I’m hardly ever short of things to say. Why stop now?
Plum Island. It’s where we made connections with select few who’ve become our life-long friends. And a best friend. (Full disclosure- we’re moving five miles into town so I’ll ease the dramatics until we move beyond the town lines.)
We lit fires on the beach and took drunken strolls down Northern Blvd holding life-sized tigers at 2:00 am. (Yes.)
We would surf on a whim and ride our bikes buzzed beside the basin.
We broke into the neighbor’s house, stole their bathroom door right off the hinges, and then speculated with them that the crazy people from their winter rental walked off with it. (Think twice before you give us (me) your house code.) We carried the door a full street away for safe keeping. This was Lily’s first major criminal activity. Let’s just say it hasn’t opened many doors for her. (Baha!)
We held dinner parties in our garden and showered in the yard.
We trekked sand into every room in the house and our dog dug holes so big you could bury (multiple!) bodies in them.
We took evening walks and watched the sunset–purple and pink, orange and blue. We saw the sunrise in ways that made you believe that God just might be real.
We threw snow parties to a grand scale… because we were LITERALLY stranded-on-an-island-with-news-crews-knocking-on-the-door-wondering-if-we-were-worried-that-we-would-die.
Heck, we (I) dressed like Linda Richman from Coffee Talk and crafted a news crew to interview neighbors– using a flat iron as a microphone of course! Don’t judge. You have NOT lived what I have lived out here in a storm. It was a very long winter and I had a lot going on. (Or not enough going on?!) Whatever. It was done more often than once, but in my defense- the internet egged me on (and that’s a good reason for anything).
Our kids ran in packs like wolves and we found them much like our parents did when we were kids– DRUNK IN THE DUNES! (Calm your pants I’m KIDDING.) You knew where the kids were once you stumbled upon a billowing pile of rusty bikes. (Because, the sea.)
The children and their so many island friends built forts of driftwood and washed up trash. (Everyone gets a hypodermic needle or nobody gets a needle, that was the motto!) They crafted their one imaginary town for hours on end until their cherry-red freckle-filled faces couldn’t take anymore. They built and worked tirelessly throughout the seasons until a storm would whisp it away.
It was the most beautiful and innocent slice of their lives, one that will forever be cherished. AND just like REAL seaside dwellers- after every storm, they would rebuild their homes with great conviction. (But on a much larger scale of course, because the Newburyport housing market is killer right now and why not take advantage?!)
We sent dream-filled lanterns over the water so that the summer sky could eat them up whole and make all our wishes come true.
We took chilling night dips just like mermaids (and mermen) do.
I want to say Lily ran off and got married at one point?
We laid in the hammock and watched shooting stars while listening to the sounds of the sea.
We sang and played by the fire and ate an unreasonable amount of marshmallows and grilled burgers. #belly
We realized the term ‘F&ck like rabbits’ is totally accurate because the bunny population on Plum Island is BANGIN’ if you know what I mean.
We (Lily) encountered a coyote face to face.
We rolled a seal back to sea and followed snapping turtles that were lost along the shore.
We drank a lot of wine. (Copious amounts.)
We (I) flirted with the hot lifeguard who ‘stood post’ at the top of my our (my) street. He is twenty years my junior, but he wore a cowboy hat and had a smokin’-tan-with-a-southern-drawl-and-a-David-Hasselhoff-in-his-heyday-sort-of-way-about-him-so-mind-your-own-business. I even snapped secret photos of him and made it into a cover of the romantic comedy I’ll likely never write, but should.
We gave and we took. We (I) gave by experimenting with food and force-feeding certain neighbors. We (I) took in the form of requesting people (the same person) to come help us (me) move furniture when Brian didn’t think large and heavy furniture needed to be rearranged or transformed over and over again. It also came as a request to be-my-wingman-midday-to-ensure-i’m-not-murdered-during-a-craigslist-swap-gone-bad. There are other ways I took, but let’s focus on the good, k?
We lived in what felt like a storybook.
We are setting sail to solid ground. Land Ho!
I will indeed miss Plum Island and all the magic it holds. I am grateful for all it has given me (us). But this is chapter is coming to an end. I’m not worried though- after all, we are writing the story.
The next chapter is titled: A Bright Yellow House. No. City Slickers Part 3! (What? They already made that movie?) Sigh. Another title in progress.
We have found our new shell. A lovely and bright yellow house. A place that gives the kids the freedom to roam without island borders. They are older and bigger and on to new things. (I am, too!) From Beach Town to In-town. We’re ready.
As we pack our final boxes and close the last door, we are filled to the brim. Not simply with the objects and things we are choosing to take with us. (The blue sofa, the pillow pets, and Jesus I wish I could take that stove!) Along with those objects and things, we take the experiences and memories and love. And quite frankly, we’re taking the friends we made. We are just going five miles down the road, people!
Come for drinks! Stay for dinner. Hell, aren’t you ‘friends’ supposed to help us move?!
With that, I give my new hood fair warning: You’re in for a treat!
The Colcords are coming in hot and we’re bringing an unwritten chapter. It promises to be interesting, fun and probably loud!
You will give and we (I) will take.
I mean, we will all give and we will all take. There will be so (so) many pieces of heavy new furniture for you to help us (me) move! There’s eggplant parm riding on it, and that’s always a safe bet. Should you decide you’re not yet ready to partake in this chapter, don’t fret. I still have great friends who live just five miles down the road.
Also, I know where you live and I will absolutely write you in as an evil character should I see fit.
I look forward to what’s ahead. Cheers!
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Cover Photo & Beach Group Photos by Amanda Ambrose Photography