After a busy couple of months, I am (finally) starting to think about summer vacation. Malcolm has been out of school since the beginning of May, but it isn't really summer yet. Not really. Since a trip overseas isn't in the cards this year, there is really only one place I want to go, one of the rituals of my childhood that I want to share with him - backpacking on the Olympic Peninsula.
This is the place I think of as part of home, even though I usually only went there once a summer for three or four days at a time. It is my happy place that I go to in my mind when I need to be somewhere else. And it is the one thing I miss most, living way out here in Arkansas. Yes, I miss my parents and childhood home and all that, but I can keep in touch with them, I visit them regularly. The beach is much harder to get to - a ferry ride, a several hour drive (long stretches of which used to be on gravel roads), a hike through the woods. It isn't somewhere you can just drop in on a whim in the afternoon, like a city park. The journey is part of the experience, part of the shedding and then regaining of normal life that makes it so special.
So this summer, I am hopeful that I can take Malcolm there, to see the endless stretch of the ocean at the edge of the continent, to play in the cold ocean, to get sand in his hair, toes, teeth, ears. To eat simple camping food around a fire after a day of running and hiking and digging. To see the stars without the lights of the city dimming them.