My Happy Place

When you leave a beautiful place, you carry it with you wherever you go

Alexandra Stoddard

Thinking about the places I’ve called home sometimes feels like recalling a lifelong friend. Much like a close friend can be counted on to provide companionship and solace, certain places can evoke the same emotions. As the setting for memorable experiences, locations can remind us of who we are, or maybe who we used to be. If you’re like me and have moved a few times over the years, perhaps you have a place that has served as a constant in your life. A place to return to year after year, providing comfort and identity. This place could be your hometown, grandma’s house or a favorite vacation spot.

For me, it’s Cape Cod.   

Cape Cod is well known as a vacation destination, but for me it has been the backdrop of many formative experiences. It has also been the one place I’ve always felt a sense of belonging. My earliest memories are of hunting for sand crabs with friends and cousins, swim lessons in the ocean, and mini golf at Shad Hole followed by ice cream cones topped with jimmies (as sprinkles are called in Massachusetts). As a teen, the Cape was a safe place to explore with my siblings, cousins and any friends we found along the way. It was a place we could push the boundaries as far as my mom, and the ‘rent-a-cops,’ would permit. When I finished high school, I landed my first job on the Cape. I spent several summers serving seafood in a local restaurant, only later appreciating how much that summer job taught me about life.   

As a young adult, I continued visiting the Cape and started recognizing the elements that bring me joy: the blue hydrangeas and beach roses, the miles of cycling paths forming the Cape Cod Rail Trail,  the seafood from spots like Kate’s or Sesuit Harbor, and annual reunions with friends and family each summer.

A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.

Joan Didion

When my Cape Week 2022 came to an end, I found myself feeling grateful for this place that continues to evolve, yet in many ways never changes. Summer is a perfect opportunity to revisit a favorite place, and to share it with an old friend, family member or new bestie. Think about the aspects of the area or favorite activities that make it meaningful to you. When introducing someone to Cape Cod, I tell them about the Cape Cod National Seashore, the tasty ice cream from the Sundae School and my favorite spot to pick up a beach read or meet a local author, the Brewster Book Store.

As I settled back into home and work this week, I’ve already begun looking forward to heading back to the Cape. The Paper Palace, a novel published last July and set in Cape Cod, seems like the perfect book to transport me back there. At least until next summer.

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