There are some places in the world that hold your memories as if they were people. A few of mine: the Wiccan shop that used to be in a basement storefront on West 81st Street, where a woman with long red hair and her HIV-positive best friend sold me candles and helped me figure out how to survive being a teenager. A terrible dive bar in the Valley called The Green Frog, where I learned to play darts and that I should never drink Jack Daniels. The entire town of Ogunquit, Maine, where I hunted for hermit crabs on the rocks at five, ate Strawberry Shortcake and lobster rolls on rickety wooden patios at fifteen, and then walked down a flower-lined aisle buzzing with mosquitoes (one of which was busy investigating my right eyelid) towards my husband at twenty-seven.
And the Cayman Islands; maybe there most of all.
It's the places where we vacation when we're kids that always get us through the heart, isn't it? I wish I had some wise thoughts that might explain why, but the best I can come up with is that our vacations let us be our purest selves at whatever age we're at, while still giving us permission to dip our toes into what came before and what's still to come. We get to hold on to our childhoods by playing in the sand just a little bit longer, and also get to have our first kisses just a little bit too soon. We get to play miniature golf with our parents, and hug them back when they hug us even though we think we're supposed to be too old for hugs - because really, who's watching?