by Oui We Contributor Sam Spahr
I’m currently in the research stage of an upcoming family vacation, and as much as I love the words family and vacation, I’ve been dragging my feet a bit on the endeavor. I’m truly a lucky gal; I like my family. Which is a bigger thing than love I think sometimes. We’re together often. We’re friends. We choose to be with one another when we don’t have too, you know? As much as I genuinely enjoy these humans, I think the impending vacation(s) coupled with the extra time we’ve spent together lately has me feeling a little like the proverbial family tree is tightening its limbs around me. It’s made me bit nostalgic for a time when I was a single little leaf living far away from home and traveling alone when I needed.
I’m thinking specifically of when I was in the throws of my graduate study in Baltimore, and I had the opportunity to take a long weekend out of the city, away from my studio or any library. (In the spirit of honesty, I brought my work with me - I'm adventurous, not reckless.) I did a quick search to find a interesting place to land for a few days.
I couldn't go too far, but I still wanted to feel . . . different . . . maybe even inspired, if I could ask that much.
An easy drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and I found myself on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. As I headed south down this craggy side of the bay’s turf, I immediately felt the comfort of two lane roads, vague sprawling fields, and antiques for sale. A switch flipped in me. I wasn't even sure of where I was headed - no tourist attraction or famous landmarks drawing me in - but I knew I could not have made a better decision.
Easton, Maryland is a thumbprint of a town. It’s sweet and quiet, and where I found the coziest Airbnb to house me for a few nights. Truly, I was blown away by the simplicity and warmth of the space that had once been a corn crib. Yes, meaning it once held heaps of harvested corn and nothing else. After an astute renovation, it stands as a studio style bungalow complete with a small foyer, spa-esque bath, and a kitchenette complete with mystically delicious banana bread fresh baked by the owner waiting for you when you arrive. And no, I was not able to snag the recipe.
I was able to lose track of time in the property’s quaint courtyard, hunker down with Chinese take-out while I read through my research articles and binged late 90s teen dramas with a bottle of wine. You cannot shame me; I am unshameable because this is what I needed to happen.
Traveling isn’t always about doing
It’s not something I recognize easily though. I often feel the need to keep moving because I don't want to waste time, or that I ought to take advantage of being wherever I am. Yet, this time was different.
I needed to be me, just in someplace new for a little while.
With my base in Easton, I ventured into St. Michaels for fresh air and a fresher outlook on my life, at that time really. A charming waterfront town that necks out into the bay, St. Michaels brought to life many ideas I’ve held about dreamy little (east) coastal towns as a deeply southern gal. Slips stacked with boats were bordered by understated seafood eateries. Walkable shops and historic buildings popped straight out of a storybook or painting, I’m sure. They all validated a piece of my soul that always hoped places like this existed in such splendor, even outside the magic of a television screen.
It’s no wonder St. Michaels has the reputation as one the most romantic towns in the country. I distinctly remember feeling joy just floating around in the air there. Nowhere pressing to be, no one else needs to consider, I walked aimlessly around for hours in some state of pure bliss. Maybe the locals were concerned about some chick waltzing around with a dopey smile on her face, in and out of every street, shop, and sidewalk, but who cares. I was damn happy. And isn’t that worth everything?
So, I’ll get on wrapping up my family’s vacation plans, (planning does make me happy) and you consider this a personal call to action: get away and go fall in love with yourself.