Back to the Sea
I had an incredible weekend. Which is nice because...I don't think I've ever had an "incredible" Labor Day weekend.
I went up to Beverly Massachusetts to visit my friend Katie Rayle and see the show she was performing in at Northshore Musical Theatre. I had no idea that Northshore was in Beverly until I went to get driving directions. The thing is, until I was about 8, I grew up in Manchester Mass, the town right next to Beverly.
First off, I'd like to take this moment to say how incredible I think my friend Katie is. She is one of the most beautiful dancers I've watched in a long time. She has grace and technique, but her presence is astonishing. She really lights up the stage and showed me how much skill it actually takes to be in the ensemble. Blending and creating an environment while staying present and active...isn't as easy as it sounds. It was the ensemble and the talented dancers like Katie that drew me into the show far more than some of the principals. I loved meeting Katie's friends, staying in their housing, and looking in on their little regional-theatre-for-a-month world. It was a great experience.
However, another incredible experience for me this weekend was going to Manchester for the first time in nearly 12 years. I drove by my old house twice while I was trying to find it. I couldn't get over how much smaller it all looked. I remembered the road being wider and the house being taller. It was actually very surreal.
Manchester is a seaside town that looks like something out of Moby Dick. It's gorgeous. As soon as I drove into the town center, I was taken back to a completely different lifetime. I didn't feel like I had gone back in time, I felt like I had gone to another life entirely. The life my siblings and I shared with my parents in Manchester was so different from anything we experienced anywhere after that. We have moved around a lot, but nothing is more distinct and separate than our time spent in Massachusetts. Perhaps it’s because it was the most innocent time for all of us. My siblings and I were all so young and spent nearly every day on the beach. My mother was new to marriage and motherhood. And my father was just starting out in advertising and still refers to that time as the most creative time of his life.
I drove down to the beach and just walked out to the surf. I stood dead center of the beach that had once seemed so much larger to me. It was a surprisingly emotional experience for me. The scents, the sounds, and just the feeling of being there brought me to a most comforting place. I felt more "at-home" than I have felt in years. While I stood on the beach, I became very sad that we had ever left the town. I wondered what I would have been like if I had stayed, practically living in that sand until I was 18. But, as I began to drive away from Manchester, I was reminded of how far everyone in my family has come. Change has been good for all of us...moving on has been important. I won't ever know what my life would have been like had I stayed in that little Nantucket-esque village. It isn't a life that I was meant to live...but, that doesn't mean it's not still apart of me. The best thing about standing out on that beach this morning was re-discovering a part of my life that I thought I had completely forgotten...and then realizing that it had never gone away.
I think Manchester By The Sea will be well worth the 3-hour drive.