On March 12 I returned from Israel and dutifully sequestered at home for two weeks. Far be it from me to spread a virus I might have picked up on a 10-hour flight. I checked my temperature several times a day and smelled rancid cheese every time I opened my refrigerator. I spent most of those 14 days glued to the television, being fed conflicting information at every turn concerning what was certain to be the worst global pandemic since the Black Plague.
I prayed fervently every night that my wife and children and grandchildren would not be among the 2.5 million Americans who lost their lives. Quite frankly, I’m going to a better place when I leave this big blue rock, and one time is about as good as another for me.
When I finally felt like I could get out, I smothered myself behind a homemade mask, gave everyone I met a wide, wide birth and followed the arrows on the grocery store floor as if they would direct me straight to the Promised Land. And I washed my hands. Goodness gracious sakes alive, I washed my hands. I had not washed my hands in my previous 68 years of life as much as I have the past three months.
I did everything I was told to do, in other words.
I was played.
So, this week I have slipped the surly bonds of Conyers and have fled the state, and the safety of my own home. I am holed up at an undisclosed location that is close to my heart.
Oh, what the heck. I’m at North Myrtle Beach.
It feels like home, even in the midst of a pandemic that prohibits people from going to church on Sunday morning or the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night but apparently allows rioting in the streets for days on end.
Let me give you a little background on me and Myrtle Beach. I had never been there when I married my lovely wife, Lisa, but she and her family had camped there much of her life. Our first summer as husband and wife the subject of summer vacation came up. She opted for Myrtle Beach but could not convince me that sitting on sand watching waves roll ashore would satisfy my sense of adventure.
We packed our tent and headed to the Outer Banks of North Carolina — to Hatteras National Sea Shore — and had a wonderful few days. We climbed giant sand dunes at Kill Devil Hills and took the ferry to Ocracoke, where Blackbeard the pirate had reigned. We photographed the wild horses and visited the site of Roanoke, the Lost Colony, and even enjoyed the outdoor drama about the mysterious disappearance of those early English settlers.
And then we got run off the island by a hurricane.
We still had a few days of vacation time left so I agreed to spend them at Myrtle Beach, and on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon we pulled into Lake Arrowhead campground and were denied entrance. “This is a family campground,” the burly guy at the gate assured us. (Did I mention that I had robbed the cradle and although my bride was 21, she looked about 16.)
Luckily, I carried around our marriage certificate for just such occasions.
Not really, but we did have the same last name and the same address on our driver’s licenses, so they finally relented and rented us a campsite.
I was hooked on Myrtle Beach after riding the first giant wave all the way to shore that afternoon and consuming my first platter of Calabash-style seafood that night. We have returned to Myrtle Beach once or twice a year every year we’ve been married. I’m pretty sure 67% of our children were conceived here. Sorry if that is too much information.
But it just stands to reason that when I finally escaped the self-imposed prison of my own home, this is where I would head. And it has been great.
The surf is warm with big rolling waves. The sand is soft, and the sun is hot. Nobody on the beach is wearing a bandana — except for the workers in our lodging facility.
I have played golf poorly and eaten well and enjoyed the company of close friends and have not looked at social media or any news source.
All is right in this world. And my temperature is holding steady at 97.6.