Small, green, hot, stuffy, dusty, prim­i­tive, gross. For eleven years this lit­tle seem­ing­ly ancient shack, appar­ent­ly a beach house, had been our home away from home when we went to Bethany Beach every sum­mer. This hut did not have air con­di­tion­ing, elec­tric­i­ty or indoor show­ers. My moth­er and I hat­ed it, and the only rea­son we stayed there every sum­mer for so long was because my mother’s sis­ter, my Aunt Bon­nie, loved it and we were afraid to tell her how we actu­al­ly felt about it. So year after year we stayed in the shack, embar­rassed to have peo­ple over, afraid that any­one who saw us com­ing out or going into it would think we were pau­pers — but still, it was just a house and we had a great time with our fam­i­ly in this house year after year. Still, how­ev­er, we hat­ed that lit­tle hut!

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Final­ly, one spring day my moth­er got off the phone with a big grin on her face and told us that this sum­mer when we went to the beach we would be stay­ing in a dif­fer­ent house, a mod­ern­ized house, on the same street as the lit­tle green shack.

At last,” I thought, “time for a mod­ern beach week!”

When August rolled around we made the three hour dri­ve to Bethany Beach, this time bring­ing friends along with us, know­ing that any house would be bet­ter than the shack. Of course, the new house was a beau­ti­ful, con­tem­po­rary house that we all adored. So thrilled, we threw our bathing suits on and raced down to the shore, and had a great day on the beach.

That night as I was walk­ing back to our new beach house, I passed the shack that we had stayed in dur­ing the sum­mer for so many years. I saw a fam­i­ly of four sit­ting on the dilap­i­dat­ed screened-in front porch with a cit­ronel­la can­dle in the mid­dle of their cir­cle. They were laugh­ing, smil­ing and joy­ous. It was then that I real­ized that the shack was not the thing that had been putting a damper on our oth­er­wise excit­ing beach trips. It was me and my pride, ashamed of the sur­round­ings with­out tak­ing advan­tage of the sim­ple gift that the bare house pro­vid­ed — sim­ple, unin­ter­rupt­ed qual­i­ty time with my fam­i­ly. I had been unable to feel pride in who I was instead of what we had until it was too late. But the new fam­i­ly was hav­ing so much fun I could hear them laugh­ing down the street from the new house. They had the atti­tude that we should have had… but it was too late.

We only came to Bethany Beach as a fam­i­ly one more year after that, once again stay­ing in the new beach house. That final year it just wasn’t the same. Sure, the beach was great, the shop­ping was tax-free (good ol’ Delaware), and end­less mini-golf kept us enter­tained for hours — but our fam­i­ly didn’t have the same syn­er­gy that we had when we only had each oth­er, our sto­ries, and the time to do noth­ing togeth­er.

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Ten years lat­er lat­er I came back to our old street at Bethany Beach after my par­ents had bought a house that was across the street from the beach, on the Bay side. I went to go look at that green shack, just to see if it was still there, and of course, it was gone. In its place was a 3 mil­lion dol­lar brand new beach house, three sto­ries, four car garage, bal­conies and wrap-around screened-in porch­es on each floor. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the rest of the neigh­bor­hood was still most­ly cot­tages and sim­ple hous­es so this new man­sion on Delaware St. stuck out like a sore thumb and kind of ruined the sim­ple, quaint appeal of the area.

For the first time ever, I wished that the lit­tle green shack was still there. That was what the beach had been to us for years, and now it was gone forever.Of course, we’ll make new mem­o­ries in our beau­ti­ful new house, but noth­ing can quite replace all the sum­mers in the shack with the whole fam­i­ly. Of course, as time moves on peo­ple, places and things change with it, but mem­o­ries stay for­ev­er. We have some great mem­o­ries, we had some great times, but we took what we had for grant­ed.

Now, I can’t even find a pic­ture of that lit­tle green shack…

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