Armchair Peregrinations

Feb. 20, 2005

A cold winter day, but bright sun and just right for a long walk on the beach up to the lighthouse. I was off work today so my brother and I set off, bundled up good, heading toward the north end of Folly Island.

It was at, or near, low tide, and we had perfect walking conditions, except for the cold. But the winter beach is really special because there are so few people out and the place has such an off-season feeling about it. I have been coming to this place since about 1964 -- I believe that was the first year we came there on vacation.

What was really special about the walk was that my brother and I got a chance to talk, something we haven't done that often in the past. It was good to re-connect with him, to reminsice and talk about our lives.

I asked him if he remembered the summer of 1973, the summer after I graduated from college and wasn't sure what to do with my life. I stayed for a month or so at my aunt's beach house, where my brother and his wife live now, taking long walks to the lighthouse, just like today, basking in the summer sun while getting sun-tanned lying on the beach (in the days when sun tans were considered good things, healthy-looking, even).

Folly Beach eased my anxieties about the future that long-ago summer when I pored over help-wanted ads, wondering how on earth and English major would get a job or what kind of job it would be. My friends had gone on to graduate school, but no way was I going to do that. That much I knew.

Not finding anything by the end of July, I headed back to New Orleans where I spent two anguished weeks in my old apartment, which I shared with my brother my senior year, before loading up my car once again, ten-speed bike on the back, and moving to Columbia to take undergrad journalism courses to prepare for a career in newspaper work.

That summer was just one among many over decades when Folly Beach has been a part of my life -- in good times and in bad.

Today, looking at the gentle waves and watching seagulls overhead, I was reminded ever so keenly again how much pull that place and Charleston have always exerted on me. It's fitting and not surprising, therefore, that I should be here at the end of 2004, in my 53rd year. Home.

An album of Folly Beach photos which I posted a while ago.

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