Every year my family goes to the same cottage,
And every year I take many, many photos.
They are essentially the same photos, year after year.
Same place, same people.
But I love each year’s photos in a separate way.
Sometimes I wonder why we have chosen this-
going to the same cottage for 20+ years.
Are we not depriving ourselves of new and beautiful things?
We get around in other ways at other times.
And there is a benefit to going back to the same place,
I think (speaking from the perspective of desiring a relaxing vacation).
You know what to expect.
What to look forward to.
What it will smell like.
You know that outside is never far away at the cottage.
(It’s even in your bed by the end of the week- hello, sandy sheets.)
You know generally what your daily schedule will be like-
Go to the water early-ish in the morning to sit or write,
Go to the water mid-day to swim and read in the sun,
Go to the water in the evening to walk the beach, skip stones, climb on the big rock, and watch the sun set.
You know that on Thursday,
Everyone will debate about whether or not to go to the flea market,
Even though we already know that of course we’re going. We always do.
You know what will be the same, and that is comfortable.
But you also notice the differences-
the new deck chairs,
the higher water level,
the new cottages that are being built down the road.
We and the cottage are always different versions of ourselves than we were the summer before.
The things we’ve learned and seen.
The things we’ve loved and been hurt by.
The things we’ve hoped for and the the things we’ve been afraid of.
These things shift, from year to year.
We just pack it all up, squash it into our cars and our vans,
And take it with us to the cottage,
where there aren’t really hiding places to tuck it away.
There is, however, plenty of space for airing things out
by the water
around the table
and on quirky couches.
It’s never perfect,
And sometimes things hurt,
Like walking over a few feet of rocks to get into deeper water
Or realizing that you still have the tendency to eat when you aren’t even hungry
Or that you are actually still selfish,
even though you had decided ahead of time not to be. Gah.
It’s always hard to leave,
And as we get closer to home,
there’s more traffic and concrete.
But somehow, I feel more ready for the fall- even when I don’t know what it holds for me. I feel braver, and like the possibility is beautiful, and I feel like there are many impossibly beautiful things that I might get to be a part of in this life.
What about you? Do you prefer vacationing in new places or in familiar places?