The first question of the blog challenge.
WHAT WAS YOUR BEST TRIP IN 2010?
I didn’t travel much in 2010. In fact, I stayed more tightly local in 2010 than perhaps any other year of recent years, or ever. For example, I went just over six months between visits to Sonoma County, my northern neighbor (about 20 miles away) between April and October. I did make a point to go back up there again quickly in November, though only to Petaluma, the closest town to Marin County. Similarly, I visited Pacifica, a coastal town just south of San Francisco, as part of a school field trip in April, but did not go there again until November 1. This is in contrast to my connection to both those places in 2009: I went to Sonoma at least once a month, and i visited Pacifica several times over the course of the year, often passing through on the way to a more distant locale (from Marin) such as Half Moon Bay or Monterey.
But what was my most memorable trip in 2010? The answer seems very easy, though somewhat predictable… the Family Reunion trip to Martha’s Vineyard in August.
The Vineyard trip was part of a larger East Coast/homeland summer vacation. Nonetheless, there was something special, almost timeless, about being back on the Island. I have referenced the experience multiple times this fall in conversation and personal reflection. It was the longest amount of time I’d spent on the island since 1999. The trip was arranged by special circumstances: my grandparents celebrated 60 years of marriage on August 9. Six days later, my grandmother had a birthday, and since my grandfather’s birthday followed soon after in September, the day became a joint birthday party. Those family elements ultimately became just one piece of a larger jigsaw puzzle or collage of island adventures.
I reconnected with places that have a warm spot in my heart but not much relevance to my modern life, such as Edgartown and West Chop. I made peace with certain elements of those places and where/what they are now in relation to my memories of them … specifically, walking by my father’s family’s homestead, which was torn down shortly after he sold it in 1999 and rebuilt as a very large house. This was the first time in several years that i had visited the site, and the first time I could look at it with an open mind and without a sense of regret. I looked at the summer tourists with some bemusement and appreciation. I checked in at several local businesses, including my favorite local bookstore Bunch of Grapes and favorite lunch counter place, the Menemsha Galley.
We navigated the high flying summer social/event scene with ease. For a few nights, I felt like I’d mastered the experience of enjoying pricey events for no cost at all. Over several memorable summer evenings, family members and I experienced Livingston Taylor and friends reading music and literature, joined a kirtan practice under a full moon in Chilmark, enjoyed Opening Night of Eat Pray Love at the Island Theatre in Oak Bluffs (first visit to that charmingly quaint single screen cinema since 1999), attended an Arts District stroll in Oak Bluffs, dived into the Built on Stilts dance festival in Oak Bluffs, and, as the climax, attended an acoustic evening performance by MV musical son Ben Taylor and several of his talented family (Sally, Kate) and friends (John Forte) at the sonically perfect Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. Of course, his mom, Carly, chose to perform at the later in the summer concert at the former Hot Tin Roof, but her absence from our show did not significantly detract from my positive impression.
In retrospect, this Vineyard trip was a perfect alignment of family and friends at an ideal time. I took a breather between the first and second years of grad school, and a change of geographical pace from my California centric life of the past few years. I came home again to a beautiful island that has changed somewhat from my youth, but retains a magical aura of possibility and community. I made the most of a fixed length experience, only being on Island for a set length of time, making every moment count and strongly stand out in my memory.