Have you ever fallen in love with a place?
My family owns one of those places; we call it the Bay House. It turned 50 this year. It models the opposite of pretentious. Its modest A-frame welcomes everyone with as much heart as my grandparents used to offer waving from the front deck as arrivals drove up the grassy lane to the property.
No one misses the spectacular view overlooking the water. Its charm draws you in slowly like the dancing wind chimes in the breezes off the bay. Once inside, the A-frame’s wood-paneled proximity pulls people together until the conversation takes over and continues the connections.
I didn’t fall in love with the Bay House for its view. I fell in love with the sounds, the smells, and the feel. From the first moment I step out of the car, I notice the notes of sandy earth meeting the brine of the bay waves that wash up the rocky shore; it brings back memories.
Placing flip-flops on the wooden stairs, washing off gritty feet with warm hose water after a swim in the cold bay, throwing a beach towel onto the railing to dry, ambling up to the wicker rocking chairs, and choosing a chair to collapse in caps off any afternoon.
The echoes of shuffling cards, burgers sizzling on the grill, ice clinking in nautical glasses, and laughter among close friends still lingers long after the guests retire. Night falls to the crickets, the fireflies and the changing tides.
Brewing coffee and my grandfather’s whistling as he shuffles around the deck to scan for international freighters with the telescope ushers in the morning.
Speedboats, trucks with trailers, and barking dogs go past, but they don’t last. Even the cell signal weakens out here. You can’t stay wired for too long by the bay.
Leaving the Bay House behind as we roll down the lane onto the gravel road on a Sunday is never easy. Waving goodbye to the water view as the road curves inland leads to watching for deer while driving onto the bending, paved highway through the woods. Finally, the road transitions to the multi-lane highway that leads back to busy life.
One day, the place will leave our family, hopefully to be shared by another family as much as ours has shared the place with friends.
You can leave. But, you can’t fall out of love with a place that lives in your heart, your mind, your memories.