It is always nice to have a taste of home when I am away at school for a few months at a time and do not have the opportunity to return to the island at all. I become homesick sometimes, being away from the smell of the salt air floating off the ocean, or the echoing buzz emanating from the carts of the roller coaster as they fall down the steep drop, or the warmth of comfortable encounters and conversations with family and friends. So when my two guy friends from home traveled the seven-hour car ride down I-95 to visit my roommate and I, both originally from Wildwood, for the weekend, they brought a little bit of home with them.
They arrived in Greenville Thursday afternoon and were waiting for me back at my apartment by the time I returned home from campus. Seeing their faces for the first time since winter break highlighted my evening, and suddenly the long, grueling hours spent in rather dull, uninteresting classes for the most part of my waking hours seemed to dissipate from my memory. While they unpacked and relaxed in the living room, we chatted around the coffee table over beers and caught up on every new event and experience taking place in each one of our lives, including Greenville news, and of course, back home occurrences.
We conversed about family, we remembered old friends. We imagined the upcoming summer and anticipated the arrivals of new businesses we heard about sprouting up all over the island for the tourist season. We mused over old, favorite hangouts and restaurants. We joked about our days spent in high school and the times where we began to first know each other, and we talked about the Wildwood community and those still in it.
Graduation was also a popular topic of discussion, considering most of us are just about that age where we will be leaving the college world of fraternity parties, spring break trips and pool days, where the biggest priority of the day is making it to an afternoon class on time. The question was targeted directly at me, considering I am leaving the carefree, campus world—the world that I have now come to be quite adjusted to for four years—in three weeks.
Was I happy about leaving this world? Anticipating the future and knowing I am at the point where I want to move forward, was I upset about leaving at all? What did I want to do with my degree? Where did I want to settle down for employment? What was my plan, if I had one? Then the boys asked me another question—a question I have not considered before that time, but think about often now since it was posed—would I ever return to Wildwood for good?
I did not say no. But I also did not say yes. Honestly, I did not know what to say or how to respond. I thought about it for a few minutes, as did everyone else, as silence fell over the room. So then I asked them the same question. We actually had a pretty insightful conversation. We all agreed about a number of factors when considering living on the island in the future. Here is on what we for locals, all from different sections of the island, decided.
We all take pride in coming from the island where we do. We have strong, instilled connections to the island, itself, the people who live there and the encompassing surroundings that shelter the Wildwoods. Although we are not sure where we will end up in the future, we all noted that we would return to the island at some point or another. It raised us, it nurtured us. It provided us some of the greatest experiences and memories we can reflect upon, with all good offerings the Wildwoods has to offer in different areas of life: community life, education, employment, business opportunity, attraction, activity, landscape. We want the opportunity to give back to our island—to reconstruct and recreate the Wildwoods to make it better for our upcoming generation and all the generations for the future, if possible. As times change, we want the future of the island to evolve in a fresh and current and hip way. We want to evolve with it in this way, as well. And we want the opportunity to lead. We have the ideas, and we have the plans. We are excited, and we are willing. We are eager. And we will do it.