As the end of August was quickly approaching, I became once again familiar with the melancholic sadness that is overwhelming at the close of the summer. As much as I adore the turning of the season to fall and look forward to the start of school, I have never been able to shake off sadness at the loss of the summer sunshine, long open days, and free time.
In the final week of August, with a last attempt to escape my sorrow before that start of the semester, I decided to run away to my favorite place in the world. I packed my bags, grabbed one of my favorite people, and left New York for my happy place. My mother and I took the two-and-a-half-hour trip to our favorite place in Connecticut, a small town called Westbrook. As we drove up I-95, the sense of impending doom and sadness that had been growing inside me all summer was washed away with waves of excitement and anticipation. Time moves slower in Connecticut. The people are nicer, more patient, and a lot friendlier. The seafood is honestly to die for. The beaches are quiet, filled with people who are perfectly happy with their slice of paradise.
Connecticut has always been beyond special to me. Many of the best and most memorable summer days of my childhood were spent visiting the sleepy beach towns up and down the Connecticut coastline. I learned to swim off the beaches. I learned how to fish off the docks. I learned how to pilot a boat in the waters. I learned how to eat an ice cream cone without having it meltdown over my hand. This is where I grew up pretending to be a pirate and a mermaid, searching for buried treasure and the perfect seashell.
There is an unfailing sense of calm and happiness that washes over me whenever I visit the beach there, as I have found my favorite place in the world. It’s the place where the sand glistens in the sunlight like diamonds, and the water is such a deep blue it breaks your heart. The feeling of gritty sand beneath your feet as the sun smiles down, the sound of waves gently rolling onto the shore with the screeching of seagulls, and the smell of the briny salty air are the most genuine and beautiful welcome to the area.
Our first day in Connecticut was spent visiting our old haunts and reacquainting ourselves with the area. Not much has changed in my twenty-two years of life, things tend to stay the same as they were when you last left the beach. The same small stores sell beach themed housewares, the same bait shacks with weather-worn signs offer everything a fisherman could ask for, the same small snack shacks are perched along the side of the road offering the some of the freshest and most delicious seafood in the world.
My week in Connecticut was smack dab in the middle of one of the longest, hottest heatwaves Connecticut has seen in years. Like most of the local population, my mother and I spent as much of it by the water as we could. Hot days are often more bearable feeling the cooling breeze off the ocean, a reliable source of comfort on even the hottest and most humid days. The rest of my time not spent by the water was spent enjoying the time with my mother. We spent our precious time shopping and talking and relaxing in any air conditioning we came across. We ate many delicious meals, almost always followed by a trip for our favorite ice cream, my mom prefers cherry dipped vanilla cones, and I like vanilla cones with rainbow sprinkles.
By the end of the week, we were more reluctant to leave than ever. Its never easy to say goodbye to the beach, especially not when you know responsibilities like school, work, and life are already waiting for you to return home. Once my mother and I tore ourselves away from the water and the beach, we stuffed our car full of our bags, souvenirs, and a cooler full of seafood we absolutely needed to bring back to New York, and we made our way home.
It is hard to return to the pace and responsibilities here at home, but every time I do, and every time I find myself wishing for a break, I think of my happy place, and life gets a little sunnier.