Quite honestly I think I am still searching for my absolute favorite place. I enjoy elements of several different places that I think I would find myself saying, “Oh, this is my favorite place!” A hike through the woods to a hidden lake, a warm summer evening sitting and listening to live music outside, a Camaro cruise through the Arboretum, a picnic at the Ballard locks with friends and so many others come to mind. Up until just recently I would have said that Seabrook, WA was my favorite place. And maybe it is…
Tom and I have been going to Seabrook since before Michael was born, before we were married, before or just shortly after I had become a real estate broker. So much of our lives have happened or been discussed while staying at Seabrook. Seabrook is a small beach town on the Washington Coast just a mile away from Pacific Beach and only 20 minutes north of Ocean Shores. And while there is something about the sound of the waves crashing onto the sand it isn’t so much the beach that draws our family to Seabrook time and time again. As much I liking walking barefoot in warm squishy sand the Washington coast is windy and cold more often than not which doesn’t lend to a lot of time strolling the beach barefoot.
When we are Seabrook life as we know it comes to a stand still. On our very first trup to Seabrook Tom and I quickly found the silence was more than being away from the hubbub of the city life, it had to do with the lack of cell service too. We found that cell service was spotty at best especially if like me, you had Sprint. (No intentional diss on Sprint it just did not work there). A staunch business person would find this utterly annoying and down right frustrating. Quite possibly it would stop them from coming back. And yet, for us it was a deal maker rather than a deal breaker. A place where I could intentionally get away from my computer, phone, email and just be with my family is something to cherish. Don’t pinch me, this is one dream I do not want to wake from. For someone like myself who finds it difficult to not respond quickly to emails, text messages and calls this was absolutely perfect. An easy out for one who has a difficult time setting boundaries. I’m learning.
While the ocean may not call our names as the salty water crashes wave after wave onto the chilly sandy shore, there are many other things that draw us back time and time again. From the moment our truck rolls up the main street Michael and I are itching to jump out and head into the rental office. I am not sure who is more excited to get inside even though we both have two very different reasons for being excited. Michael anxiously searches about the rental office looking for sweets. A piece of salt water taffy just waiting for his little chubby dirty fingers to unwrap and cram into his mouth. The sweet taste of vacation. I on the other hand want the code. It used to be a key but now it is a code. The code gives you access to the home that you have rented. Key code in hand we drive our truck slowly down the Desperate House Wives-esque streets lined with sidewalks and families walking, couples hand in hand with little ones biking, scootering, running, strolling behind them ever a mess with sticky hands and sticky faces. Tom and I glance at the picket fences ignoring the twinge of oh-this-is-so-not-for-every-average-American thoughts that we feel creeping in but instead allow the thoughts of impromptu soccer matches, corn hole, walks through the woods and time without cell phones to crowd in.
As the years have gone by, I believe we are at year number 11 going on 12 now, who opens the door to our temporary home away from home has changed. Michael is the one who wants to open the door these days. Code works, door flings open and his not so small anymore feet are running through the house room by room. “WHICH ONE IS MY ROOM?!?!” is shouted, repeatedly. I walk through the door much slower these days taking a long deep breath as I enter. I look around soaking up the furnishings, the colors, the décor, the home that will be our home for the next 3 nights. The space that we will unwind in, tune out of life and work while we tune into each other. So much has happened in this town. Not this home as we have stayed in many different homes. Some of these Seabrook homes hold very special memories indeed.
Central Park on Crescent Park is the home where Tom and I sat around the dining room table with our friends Tae and Vanessa. Laurie was about 14 years old at the time. Tae and Vanessa had two little ones of their own, Ashley and Josh. Their family had distinct plans of how they would grow. Two close together for 3 years of hellish sleepless nights and potty training. A couple years off to rejuvenate and then bam! 2 more littles back to back is the plan with 3 more hellish years. All in the name of sibling friendships. As much as it shocked me when I heard it, secretly I thought it was a brilliant plan. I was happy for them (assuming all clocks aligned and the next two came along as planned.) Their two littles and Laurie ran around the house and played games while us adults chatted after dinner. The dirty dishes could wait. The aroma of the bbq’d steak still lingering in the air drawing me back for just one more taste. Just across the grass of crescent park we could hear the crackle of the bon fire ramping up. Not long and the kids would be begging to go roast a marshmallow over the fire to melt with yummy chocolate and make a s’more.
Lingering at the table a bit longer we chatted about life as we know it and life going forward. The big question for Tom and I was, to have a baby or not to have a baby. When I met Tom I already had Laurie. She was 11 going on 12 years old. Laurie and I both fell in love with Tom and he in turn fell in love with both of us. Having not fathered other children and with Laurie being already nearly a teenager we just didn’t know if trying to conceive and adding a new little life to our family was the right thing to do. Laurie lobbied. We weighed the pros and cons along with the realistic possibility of whether we would even get pregnant or not. That night, sitting there in this lovely large open great room at a table with close friends, Tom and I made the decision to throw the birth control pills away and see if we in fact could get pregnant. We decided to try but agreed to accept the outcome should it be that we were unable to conceive naturally without any additional help. Not more than 40 days later I was pregnant with who would become, Michael.
We have brought countless friends with us to Seabrook wanting to share the magic that we have found. Many, practically all, end up going back with their families as their own traditions are started. In 2012 we rented the Washington House and hosted Tom’s 50th birthday party with our kids and about 20 friends. What a wonderful and memorable weekend that was. And then in 2016 we rented Grandma Dorothy’s Cottage. Neighbor Dave and Kari came with us along with Michael and De’Vion. There was a very specific intent to this trip. I had decided it was time to shave my head. Having been diagnosed with cancer in January that year we knew once chemo began I would lose all of my hair. It was just a matter of time. Chemo was having it’s toll on me and my hair was quickly falling out. Rather than continue to let it happen I decided I wanted to shave it off. Seabrook seemed the right place for this to happen. We shave it down to just a buzz cut. That would make the rest of the falling out less painful and less difficult. Having Dave and Kari there kept it light hearted albeit emotional. Just what I needed. A safe place to laugh and cry at the same time. Seabrook holds so many moments in time for us. For a family always on the go it has been the one place we can slow down, stop and just be.
Unlike the fancy houses, the fancy décor, the fancy shops and restaurants that are cropping up, for us it is anything but fancy. It is back to the basic of just being together. Card games around the table. Walks through the woods and in the rain. Huge campfires on the beach for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Slow strolls through the neighborhood gazing at the homes old and new while dreaming up what it would be like to just live here all the time. Knowing full well it would never work. Wanting only for this time of life being slower to simply never end.
As the years go by the town grows and the prices go up. We decided not to go to Seabrook this summer as the rental amount for 3 nights seemed outrageous. I found myself making comments that it was time to find a new place for our family to go to the ocean each year. And yet, as I sit here and types this all out I find myself wanting to close this computer page and open the Seabrook Rental Cottages page in order to plan our next trip. I am sneaking a peak at my calendar and determining where we can squeeze in a few days into the already quite booked last few weeks before school. I want to pick up and drive to the one place where we stop. I find my inner being, my soul, my heart, my mind all reaching for the same thing. The road that leads not just to the ocean (although I do love the sounds of the ocean waves, seagulls and all), the road that leads to simply being together as a family. Walking, talking, playing, swimming, eating, laughing, silently being together in the one place that holds so many big and small moments of our lives.
I am not altogether sure I am ready to call it my favorite place. I hold out that I may find another more favorite place. For now I will call it the place that holds most of my favorite moments.