I wrote this short essay to describe my summer to colleagues with the following photographs. I don’t always share about my own experiences and that of course shapes many, if not all, of my artistic choices!
The Great Summer “Stay-cation”
I’m sure many of my colleagues have travelled the world, visiting distant places and broadening their minds intellectually and culturally. I can’t say my summer was that exciting, I decided to spend its entirety in Charlotte, North Carolina with my parents.
The last time I spent any length of time with my parents was in high school. As soon as I went to university, I moved out. I would visit for Christmas but really that was the extent of my visits. I credit their constant drive to make me an independent human being with my immediate desire to get out “on my own” (which, of course meant live with my sister and her family, so much for independence). I’ve never felt far away from them with consistent phone calls and internet communication. But, when my summer plans fell to pieces, I asked them if I could come home and they welcomed me with open arms.
Even amongst my friends in the USA my family is known as the all-American family. My friends in high school joked my mother was “Betty Crocker,” or called her “Martha” (which thankfully changed after Martha went to jail). Another friend had to call her mother after her first visit to my house and tell her “they really do serve milk and cookies!” I decided to take full advantage of this labeling on holiday. This meant home cooked food, lots of baked goods and board games. We went the movies weekly and walked together in the mornings when we managed to wake up.
The one trip we did take was a long weekend to Charleston, South Carolina. The city is full of history with tangible reminders of our recent slaving past, which is contrasted by a celebrated and proud Southern culture. We visited Magnolia Plantations and learned about the family that owned the plantation and some Charleston history during the Civil War. I believe my father’s highlight was when I saw a giant spider dangling above my head and I screeched like I was 5 again and sprinted across the plantation grounds. We also visited the Angel Oak tree, which is over 400 years old. In between all of the historical visits and walking through Charleston proper, we ate, ate and ate some more. When I travel, it is all about the food!
When summer came to a close, we were all a bit disappointed that the summer went so quickly. We all had anticipated that the family bonding would leave us happy with the experience, but happy to return to routine when it was over. Instead, we were all heartbroken it was over so soon. We didn’t do much of anything, but we wondered where the time had gone! Thankfully, they’ve since decided to visit me for Christmas.
So rarely do we have the opportunity, or make the time to stop and enjoy what we have. My father’s recent diagnosis of COPD has made all of these small moments all the more memorable and tangible, vibrant. So no, I did not have a summer to brag about where I’d gone and what I did, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to know my parents in another way and realize just how much I owe them as well as just how lucky I am to have them.