Everyone has their points in life they can set their compass to. Whether it is a certain place or time, it serves as a constant. It's the point at which you can take inventory of the rest of the world and measure what has changed. For me, this point is Maine.
We've taken this yearly trip around Labor Day for the past four years for the simple purpose of relaxing. Maine is certainly the place to accoplish this goal. We have a limited agenda and a Gray vacation motto of "anything is fair game", which means we can stop wherever we want, eat whatever we want, and change the plan at a moment's notice. It's tough to have a strict agenda in Maine. It seems as though all of that goes out the window as soon as you cross the border from New Hampshire into this great state. Once we drive over the bridge, everything feels lighter.
Our vacation this year was just like every other, relaxing and rejouvenating-filled with daily trips to the local farmstand, a lobster a day (for Chas), walks and runs around Mere Point, a few good books, and drives along back roads filled with talks about what we would do if we had a house on the coast. It was also different this year. It was different in the obvious ways. We added a new member to the mix - Charlie had his first taste of the salt air. Julia was able to enjoy things from a different perspective. It was also different in much more subtle ways. Our lives have changed drastically from that first family trip four year ago. We were newleyweds then. We spent every day kayaking and discovering new adventures. Little did we know, the next year Julia would be present in our lives, which added a new twist to this get-away. Relaxing on vacation took on a greater priority. Our time became less defined and we were just as content to spend our time on the dock. It may have been less adventurous perhaps, but more exciting. The next year Julia was growing and learning. The whole trip seemed dedicated to teaching her everything there was to know about Maine. She learned how to eat corn on the cob and touched a lobster for the first time. She heard all of Charles' adventures as he grew up vacationing in Maine. This year was filled with a bit more of this as she is so excited to soak in the world around her. She took her first dip in the cold Maine waters and loved every moment of it. Charlie is becoming so alert and aware of his surroundings.
Every once in a while, Charles and I look at each other and smile. We use this place as a point of reference. Our lives have changed so much over the years. In some ways I miss that first year, though I know there will be plenty of adventures to be had on the coast of Maine. I love this place in our lives. There is excitement in knowing that there is so much to look forward to. At times like this, we are reminded to slow down and enjoy these milestones.