My Dad was born in New York, Brooklyn.
His summers were spent on the Jersey Shore,
where he spent time getting sunburned with his beloved cousins.
He was a redhead, and always the butt of the jokes. He loved it.
They always got in so much trouble.
We lived in rural Kentucky when I was born,
but he wanted us to have the same experience
of the salt in our hair, turning it lighter,
of going to bed with sand between our toes,
and of being together as a family.
So, my parents saved all their money for years,
and bought a small piece of land
in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
And they built a tiny beach house, before the crush of people came.
I remember visiting, meeting the builder (his name was Tex),
and of staring out at the wide open Pamlico sound,
that was flat, full of oysters, blue crabs, jellyfish,
and tiny islands dotting the inner waterway.
We spent every holiday and break there that we could.
It was our escape from backwoods Kentucky.
We had a tiny dock, a tiny boat (Bob 'n' Dobbin), and a tiny house.
There was a pizza place called Nino's that made the best pizza,
and I remember how excited we were when they opened a Dairy Queen,
walking home with our butterscotch dipped cones
melting all over our tiny fingers.
It was paradise.
The house was built on stilts, and when the waters were high,
they would cover the sandy floor beneath the house,
the water churning so that you could not see the sandy bottom
through the granular clouds, and we would be trapped,
and I'd sit with my feet dangling into the ocean from the stairs
watching them disappear.
We would take the ferries around the waters where Blackbeard roamed,
to Okrakoke Island where he was beheaded.
I loved being around the waters where real pirates prowled.
There were even real shipwrecks.
We saved money and donated it when the tides were rising,
and they had to pick up and move the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse,
which I still think is the most beautiful lighthouse of all time.
They ended up selling it to move us to Oregon for a "better life".
The tiny house is still there, it sometimes comes up for sale.
I'd like to rent it sometime, to take my own family to that magical place,
to watch them enjoy the water, go crabbing
using just a string, hook, and hunk of chicken.
The patience it takes to wait until the blue crab has a good grip,
and then you gently and slowly pull it up and net it.
The furniture is still the same.