By Madeline Crowley
As I board the plane once more in the scorching heat of July, all the excitement comes rushing back. It’s the same feeling I’ve felt summer after summer for the past 15 years of my life. I take the anticipation-filled six and a half hour flight to Maryland and then the three hour drive to New Jersey. On the east coast, a special vacation spot lies on what is actually an island, the small beach town of Wildwood.
Since my birth year, 2007, I have only missed 2 summers of going to this same spot and renting out the same waterfront condo to spend the week in. Taking all these trips has made Wildwood earn a very sentimental and special place in my heart, as well as making me extremely fortunate that I am able to spend the time I do there. One reason I find this place so special is because of the people I get to go there with. Sadly, my maternal grandparents live in Pennsylvania so I only get the chance to see them once or twice a year and when I do it’s always in my favorite state: New Jersey! The tradition of visiting Wildwood began with my grandmother’s father who used his leftover farming money to take his family to the beach for a week every summer. Over the years, our family has grown and created many more traditions during the trips we’ve made to Wildwood. I always begin my beach trip with a big hug from my grandparents and then my family helps them to unpack their minivan in which they cram all of our beach house items and favorite summer meals in. It is only a 6 minute walk to the waters edge depending on the tide and a 20 second walk to the pool. We spend almost every day of our vacation relaxing on the light sand beaches with warm water at our toes and the annoying song of the singing fish wall decoration that hangs in the laundry room of our condo, repeating in our heads. I cherish the traditions of playing card games with cousins, aunts and uncles, waking up early to get the first selection of sea shells with my grandmother, flying kites on the windy nights with my grandfather, watching the vibrant sunsets and intense summer thunderstorms over the Atlantic ocean from our balconies, taking boat rides on the best dolphin watch boat to exist, the Thunder Cat, and showering with sunburns and salty hair after eight hour beach days.
This summer however, as Covid went around my family at the beach condo, I came to the realization that I have a decreasing number of summers left of going here with my grandparents, and that it is priceless to spend every moment you can in their company. I hope to continue returning to this summer spot the same way sea turtles return to their beach nesting spots every year. Lastly, I aspire to bring my future kids and family here so they can experience summer the same magical way I have.