I've held off a little on this post because I'm not totally sure how I feel about this year's Thanksgiving vacation. Why I stopped writing because I had a less than satisfying break is beyond me, but it doesn't take much to throw me off of my groove.
It's an annual family tradition to go to Chincoteague, VA over Thanksgiving. As geeky as it sounds, I belong to a family of passionate birdwatchers. My father, for example, can identify a shoveler from a distance, without binoculars, and staring into the setting sun. Try it, it's not easy. As for me, I'm dedicated enough to let Dad convince me to wake up at five in the morning to listen to the ducks wake up. It's not the most exciting hobby, but water fowl make me smile, I guess.
Over the twenty-one years I've been going to Chincoteague, things have changed. Newer, more modern hotels with heated pools have sprung up around the island's coastline, overshadowing our little motel that features a pool full of micro-organisms and a backyard donkey. More corporation-owned businesses are entering the little town in an attempt to take advantage of the summer tourist season. It's progress and I understand that. I also understand that such decisions that affect the island are not mine to make; the islands need to do what's best for them.
Even with this understanding, this year's vacation was hard. First, my brother and my father could not attend due to a college showcase soccer tourney in northern New Jersey. Mom and I shared the large suite that usually seems cramped when it holds the four of us, but seemed cavernous with only two. It was the first Thanksgiving without Dad, but it was my brother's presence that I missed the most. Sometimes it's nice to have someone in your age bracket to talk to.
Second, the donkey behind the hotel was particularly active this year. I have never seen this animal and have only known of his presence through his early morning braying, which always seemed harmless. This year, the donkey was shrieking (and I do mean shrieking) far into the night and early morning, making sleeping in my room impossible. My nights were spent huddling next to my mother in her double bed, enduring snoring that was at least more familiar than a possessed barn animal.
Third, the internet cafe downtown decided to close for the holidays, leaving my shaking for a connection like a junkie for a hit. I still have tremors.
Fourth, our motel will probably not be open for Thanksgiving next year. The large hotels attract the families with small children and electricity has gone up 40%, leaving the motel owners to close over the autumn slack. It's not that I blame them; the owners of our motel have two boys to put through college. It's just hard to know that the place you've stayed in for seventeen years won't be there anymore.
Things change, I know. I should look on the bright side... The resturant where we usually eat Thanksgiving dinner wasn't turned into a Waffle House after all. The birds and the ponies are still there. The salt grass will always smell the same (it's one of the three smells I would bottle, along with potato chips and chocolate). And it seems like that donkey will be around as well.
Yes, the bright side is bright, but it's still hard to lose the things you've grown accustomed to in a world that's ever changing.