Project runaway.

I ran away from home last weekend.

This semester I’m responsible for reading 80 pages of finance text every week, calculating homework problems, plus reading 3-5 management articles and answering short answer homework on those.

Overwhelming.

We began plotting an escape to the beach at the beginning of the week, even though it’s far past summer and the weather has turned chilly. I begged out of class early on Thursday, and I can work remotely from anywhere. So luckily, our plan went off without a hitch.

I’m not actually a beach person, but this place is an oasis, the most relaxing place on Earth. I’ve been going there since before I can remember, and my familial roots are deep. My grandmother grew up nearby, playing on the beach with cousins when it was just an island of sand, not the bustling tourist location it’s become. Well, it’s still not that bustling, thank goodness.

Our house has survived many a hurricane over the years, and its decor still reflects circa 1982 — Clemson-orange laminate kitchen countertops and everything. But since it’s relatively untouched, there are constant reminders of the summers I spent there with my grandmother … we’d eat Vienna sausages (gross) or bologna sandwiches (double ick) for lunch and watch “stories” before her nap. My dad and I played putt-putt, where I was champion of the hole-in-one on hole number 3. We conquered the waterslides. My cousin and I rode our bikes all around the huge sand dunes, which were later leveled in favor of million-dollar homes. My mom and I combed the shore for shark’s teeth. Back when there was a pavilion, we walked barefoot up from the beach through the boardwalk arcade to get a snow cone. I’ve watched that pavilion and its cement sea wall, the beachfront waterslide, a double-laned street and a whole row of beachfront houses be sacrificed to beach erosion during the last 30 years.

I think (I hope) everyone has a “happy place” where you can go in your mind to escape when needed. One of mine is in a rocker on the porch at the beach house, reading a book or watching the “ant farm.” See, we have these neighbors across the street who have a million family members. Their house is a three-story duplex with a shared front porch, but they’ve never cut a door in between the two apartments. So the 30-odd family members — grandparents, parents, teenagers, kids — run up and down the stairs and in and out of the front doors, yelling to each other out windows and down to the street. All day long. They bought the empty lot next to us so they can park all of their cars, trucks, wave runners, pontoon boat, even an 18-wheeler every once in awhile. Trust me, watching the ant farm is more mesmerizing than television; we could (and do) sit there for hours entranced.

The ant farm, currently at rest.

The neighbors weren’t there this weekend, but we entertained ourselves in other ways. We shared great food — I even rediscovered my love of grits — watched a football game or three, sat on the porch with drinks and reminisced about good times with family. I did have to bring my books with me, so a decent block of my time was spent finishing all of my work. But just being there is relaxing enough.

I’ve learned that sometimes you have to run away from home just to preserve your sanity.

Now I’m back to it, and my eyelid has started twitching again. Sigh.

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