Small, green, hot, stuffy, dusty, primitive, gross. For eleven years this little seemingly ancient shack, apparently a beach house, had been our home away from home when we went to Bethany Beach every summer. This hut did not have air conditioning, electricity or indoor showers. My mother and I hated it, and the only reason we stayed there every summer for so long was because my mother’s sister, my Aunt Bonnie, loved it and we were afraid to tell her how we actually felt about it. So year after year we stayed in the shack, embarrassed to have people over, afraid that anyone who saw us coming out or going into it would think we were paupers – but still, it was just a house and we had a great time with our family in this house year after year. Still, however, we hated that little hut!
Finally, one spring day my mother got off the phone with a big grin on her face and told us that this summer when we went to the beach we would be staying in a different house, a modernized house, on the same street as the little green shack.
“At last,” I thought, “time for a modern beach week!”
When August rolled around we made the three hour drive to Bethany Beach, this time bringing friends along with us, knowing that any house would be better than the shack. Of course, the new house was a beautiful, contemporary house that we all adored. So thrilled, we threw our bathing suits on and raced down to the shore, and had a great day on the beach.
That night as I was walking back to our new beach house, I passed the shack that we had stayed in during the summer for so many years. I saw a family of four sitting on the dilapidated screened-in front porch with a citronella candle in the middle of their circle. They were laughing, smiling and joyous. It was then that I realized that the shack was not the thing that had been putting a damper on our otherwise exciting beach trips. It was me and my pride, ashamed of the surroundings without taking advantage of the simple gift that the bare house provided – simple, uninterrupted quality time with my family. I had been unable to feel pride in who I was instead of what we had until it was too late. But the new family was having so much fun I could hear them laughing down the street from the new house. They had the attitude that we should have had… but it was too late.
We only came to Bethany Beach as a family one more year after that, once again staying in the new beach house. That final year it just wasn’t the same. Sure, the beach was great, the shopping was tax-free (good ol’ Delaware), and endless mini-golf kept us entertained for hours – but our family didn’t have the same synergy that we had when we only had each other, our stories, and the time to do nothing together.
Ten years later later I came back to our old street at Bethany Beach after my parents had bought a house that was across the street from the beach, on the Bay side. I went to go look at that green shack, just to see if it was still there, and of course, it was gone. In its place was a 3 million dollar brand new beach house, three stories, four car garage, balconies and wrap-around screened-in porches on each floor. Unfortunately, the rest of the neighborhood was still mostly cottages and simple houses so this new mansion on Delaware St. stuck out like a sore thumb and kind of ruined the simple, quaint appeal of the area.
For the first time ever, I wished that the little green shack was still there. That was what the beach had been to us for years, and now it was gone forever.Of course, we’ll make new memories in our beautiful new house, but nothing can quite replace all the summers in the shack with the whole family. Of course, as time moves on people, places and things change with it, but memories stay forever. We have some great memories, we had some great times, but we took what we had for granted.
Now, I can’t even find a picture of that little green shack…