Old Man Summer
By Jeb Bohn
Phew, deep breath.
I am, in fact, an only child.
Okay, judge away, I can take it.
While I grew up without siblings, I did have cousins who were close in age. The catch? They live in Colorado. Yeah, your boy couldn’t catch a break.
Still, we would drive out every summer, pick them up, and bring them to North Carolina for a couple of months. We would go to the beach and King’s Dominion. We’d listen to music (96 was such a good year!) and stay up until the local affiliates started airing wanted posters.
Good times indeed.
The Sands of Time
As we neared 18, those summer excursions drew to an end. In the years since—I won’t say how many—I’ve seen my beloved cousins maybe five times.
You know how it goes: you get older, gain more responsibilities, and your free time dwindles.
Then, one day you look in the mirror, see that white hairs have taken over your beard, and sit back waiting for death’s sweet embrace.
Excuse me while I cry in the corner.
Last year, my mom and her two sisters bought a house in North Myrtle Beach. It’s a nice house in a great location, not caught in the thick of the touristy jungle.
So, now that their mom was on the other side of the country, a visit seems in order, no?
I made the now-familiar trek to their new house. Once there, my cousin promptly greeted me. We hadn’t seen each other in three years, but—as with all strong relationships—it was as if no time had passed.
We drank, reminisced, played mini golf, drank, went to the beach, saw the sights, and drank.
One of the highlights came when we took a two-night excursion to The Seahawk, a motor lodge in Atlantic Beach, NC.
Now, The Seahawk isn’t the fanciest place to stay. It does, however, have great beach access. More than that, it’s a place we visited every summer as kids.
Memories flooded back of playing Mortal Kombat II in the arcade at Jungleland (now a trailer park; R.I.P.) and spending hours cooking under the sun as we played in the waves.
No, it wasn’t the same as the halcyon 1990s. We’re older now, carrying the weight of adulthood. We all have stressors we never imagined when we spent an hour trying to perfect Kung Lao’s hat toss decapitation.
This time, I would dare say, was even better. With age comes the appreciation of having so much family together. The joy in watching as a loved one sits in a decrepit chair only to be spilled onto the ground. The simple laughter in watching your cousin fail spectacularly at exiting a hammock.
Eventually, the excess bourbon led to slight dehydration which exacerbated the aches of our advanced ages. Still, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Now, with the trip drawing to a close—and my laptop’s battery dancing dangerously close to death—I’m left with a familiar mixture of sadness and joy. When will I see my cousins again? What will transpire in our lives between now and then?
Despite the anxiety that needles my brain, I’m choosing to cling to the new memories we’ve made over the past week. Nothing in the future is given.
That said, this has been one hell of a week, even for a jaded old man like myself.
Til we meet again…