My wife and I had an opportunity this summer that we haven’t had in at least five years: we had time to ourselves without our 6-year old and 3-year old around. My wife’s dad and step-mom offered to take our boys off of our hands this summer for two weeks to give them a bit of a vacation and to give us a break from being parents and to spend some extra time with just each other. My wife, much to my pleasant surprise, decided to book us a hotel in the Outer Banks, NC.
I had never been there before, and neither had she, but she knew that I was longing to see the ocean again. For those of you that don’t know me, I was born and raised in Florida. My dad’s house is but 10-15 minutes from the ocean. I grew up surfing from the time I was nine years old. We would spend upwards of 8-10 hours out in the sun at the beach on any given summer day - no sun screen, and very few sunburns. The ocean was and is a part of who I am at the deepest parts of my core.
Decisions I’ve made over the last eight or so years have taken me away from the ocean. I joined the military and have since been stationed, for the vast majority of that time, no less than three hours away from the nearest source of salt water. It has hurt my heart. On top of that, my wife and I had been debating (arguing?) about where to move when we’re done with the military, and for the longest time I had contended that Florida would be our best bet. All of the science relating to sunshine, vitamin D, and happiness are in my corner, after all. My wife, though, has just as deep of an affinity for the seasons and white Christmases as I have for warmth and ocean. So, she wins. Also, before you start trying to suggest all of the places that could serve as a compromise, don’t waste your effort - I’ve already done that...to no avail.
So, since my wife knows that I struggle with the knowledge that we will likely never live anywhere near the ocean again, she decided to make some vacation plans in the Outer Banks. At the last minute, I asked my wife if she would be okay with me leaving her alone for a couple/few hours one of the days we would be gone so that I could go on a dive. Again, for those of you who don’t know me, I found scuba diving almost by accident when I had first gone off to college. I was attending the University of Hawai’i at HIlo, on the Big Island, and I could not have imagined that I would ever love an activity as much as surfing, if not more. But, I found that activity in scuba diving. It instantly became my passion in life. It is the single activity that I can participate in that makes me feel alive and it fuels my imagination. It feeds my need for adventure.
Well, I called up a dive shop in the Outer Banks - Roanoke Island Outfitters And Dive Center - and I made a reservation for a shore dive. I was STOKED because it was only $30 and I love shore dives. PLUS, it was going to be a wreck dive - my very first, as a matter of fact. The day before I was supposed to go out, the dive shop calls me and tells me that they have to cancel the dive because NO ONE ELSE SIGNED UP. I haven’t been diving in two years because I have no one to dive with. I finally decide that I am going to just sign up for a diver master led excursion to get my diving fix in and they cancel it on me. To say that I was disappointed is an understatement.
But, that is life, right? Life is full of disappointment. There is disappointment around every corner - getting fired from jobs, life not turning out the way you imagined, the weather not cooperating for something you want to do, etc. There are all kinds of examples. So, what do you do? In our case, I just tried to appreciate the fact that I was on the ocean. The Outer Banks is the first place I’ve encountered since leaving Florida where I instantly felt like I was at home. Because of conversations my wife and I have had previously, I know that it won’t ever happen, but I could easily see myself getting out of the military at the end of this enlistment and getting some low-paying, low-stress job somewhere on the islands and me and my family just living a laid back, relaxed island lifestyle. This is where I belong, honestly.
Again, I know it won’t ever happen. That’s okay. Ultimately, as long as I am with my family, then I am where I need to be. But, it is definitely beautiful here. So, in the spirit of trying to just look on the bright side of things, I want to share some of the pictures we took while we were in the Outer Banks.