Every summer that I can remember I’ve made the five-hour (or so depending on how full our bladders or stomachs are) drive with my family to Bath, North Carolina for about two weeks. Bath, situated on the Pamlico River is the oldest and maybe the smallest town in North Carolina. Founded in 1705, it I the best place for me to be a kid.
When I go to Bath, or “The River” as my family lovingly calls it, I stay in a small, two-story house with my two grandparents, my two brothers, five cousins, mother, two aunts, and sometimes my dad and two uncles. The “grandchildren” or my brothers, cousins, and myself all sleep in one room where there are three sets of bunk beds with two small twin beds. We also use one bathroom and there are both boys and girls. Every year, without fail, all of us come to The River, sleep in that room, and use that bathroom even though my eldest cousin will be nineteen this summer.
Time doesn’t seem to exist at the River. Our days are spent donuting, our made-up word for tubing in a giant inflatable object with four holes, skiing, catching fireflies at dusk, putting on a musical in the living room, or participating in a nightly game of spotlight tag with our unusual, home schooled neighbors from Texas. We go to the Quarterdeck to get ice cream, to Brooks Store, where old, tanned men sit on boxes smoking cigarettes talking, to get our groceries, to Olde Towne Country Kitchen and Grille to get a bloomin’ onion or an extra greasy burger, to the sharks tooth pile to compete to find the biggest tooth, or to the “Sandy Beach” to find Blackbeard the pirate’s lost treasure (we’re sure it’s buried somewhere in Bath).
There is no real connection to the outside world from Bath. The only way to get Internet is to go to the library, which is only open three days a week. My cell phone doesn’t get service. I stop being a member of my generation that is so dependent on electronics to have fun but go play. It isn’t a sign of immaturity to get worked up about a game of kickball or to have a three-hour water fight that involves fifty-foot soakers and multiple pots and pans. I’m no longer too cool to sit on the porch in a rocking chair and sing camp songs or old drinking songs like “Rickety Tickety Tin” with my grandfather on guitar. I grow back down from the mature fifteen year old who’s at boarding school back to a kid who takes delight in drenching her mom with water.
I believe in the power of childhood, because the kid I am for the two weeks I have at The River changes the person I am for the other fifty.
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