A Step Back-In the Right Direction

Slow times on the home front. Five months biding our time on a holding pattern. A pattern of doing a little of this, a little of that—all in the name of getting by before pulling up stumps and boarding another plane. This time a 30 plus hour transit for an US East Coast island wedding and an anniversary celebration of another one—my parents’. The Big 5-0.

Coastal Sea Oats

It was time to go back. Back to where it all began. Coastal Carolina. Wilmington to be exact.

Wilmington, home of the NBA’s GOAT (Sorry, LeBron) and, as this particular visit was sure to remind, known bullseye on many a hurricane map over the years. So with this hurricane season more active than a hot button topic Facebook post, it seemed the perfect time to set up camp across the road from a raging and tumultuous Atlantic Ocean. There as Irma left the Caribbean Leeward Islands a ravaged war zone, 19 souls from three generations sat cooped up in a single Carolina Beach rental property. Waiting.

Waiting to see what Irma’s ultimate path would take. Waiting for a break in the onslaught

A Hungry Mob

of dune battering and beach obliterating storm surge. And, more times than not, waiting for the next meal.

Food in the form of slow cooked, spice and vinegar basted, pulled pork known in coastal Carolina parlance simply as BBQ. Along with what starts as one entire (unlucky) pig, throw in balls of deep fried corn meal (called hushpuppies), cole slaw and baked beans and what you have is a meal to serve a small 3rd World nation for a few days. Or, as was the case for us, a small army of 19 for a week.

‘Tell on me Leah and I’ll kill you!

Mmmm good! Real good. But even three kg (over six pounds) later, it isn’t really the food I’m finding myself missing (though, I so wish I’d packed more grits for the return flight).

Actually, it’s the comradery. Namely, the interaction between Kaia, her friends new and old and her cousins. A focused, locked and loaded interaction that was completely indifferent to whether or not mom and dad were anywhere in the house (or even the state, for that matter). Yes, after five months of trying to break Kaia’s South American developed habit of not giving either of us two minutes alone—even to answer nature’s call–it’s that aspect of the recently vanquished three plus weeks I miss most.

Cousins ranging from almost four month old Lena to 17 year old Rachel and all ages in

Baby Lena

between. From Piper of upstate New York to Jax from the Burg of PA, and the rest of the Smith posse (Leah, Rebekah, Sarah, and Luke) from Wilmington, Kaia’s reality was suddenly quite different from her relatively quiet world back home in Tugun, Australia.

And that company would continue 45 miles north on Topsail Island where Kaia would find herself surrounded by the ever inclusive K-9 gang of Mimi’s Pink Palace.

Mimi in the Middle of Team K-10

Not a dog anywhere in sight, the K-9s are Kayla, Koral, Kendell, Kylie, Khloe, Karter, Keoni, Kai and Kenner with Kaia making an even K-10.

Between the K-9 and the cousins, Kaia never lacked for attention or stimulation. From surfing companions, dress up partners, swimming coaches, sand sculpturing, painting and drawing assistants, puzzle partners and yes, even the occasional accomplice in Us versus Them shenanigans, it was safe to say Kaia kept herself busy making up for lost time. Which was all a very welcome sight.

Welcome and a bit surprising in that it came with its own set of introspective interrogation. Questions like, for

Tired Puppies with Aunt Tracy

example, what, if anything will Kaia remember of this particular three week stretch? What will be Kaia’s reaction to having to put such a steady and welcome onslaught of companionship behind her? Is it selfish of me to be living a lifestyle that is not able to allow for such gatherings on a more frequent basis than every two and a half years? And, the big one, just what am I prepared to do to assure Kaia’s stateside visits don’t come to be viewed by friends and family as some sort of February-like, leap year occurrence?

In the end, it’s all a bit of a fine line and let’s just say I know I have my work cut out for me.

Little Mermaid with Keoni and Kenner

But for these particular three weeks, it really was anything but work as both mom and dad had plenty of help. So to Nana and Grandpa and the Smith gang of Wilmington and the K-9 posse which extends from Nagshead to New Bern, North Carolina all the way down to the Pink Palace of Topsail Island, a heartfelt thank you.

Thank you for helping to show Kaia the time of her life and treating her

Cousins, hand in hand

like the princess she keeps insisting she is. Thank you for treating her as your spoiled granddaughter, niece, cousin, sister and your friend (even when instructions for the grand play she’s forever orchestrating in her head and giving orders for become tedious and irksome).

And last but not least, thanks for reminding Kaia’s father that though the far flung corners of the globe my beckon, it’s in going back that is often the greatest journey of all.








  1. Cecelia October 1, 2017 Reply
  2. Mimi September 30, 2017 Reply
    • Corin October 1, 2017

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