Twelve If By Sea

It’s 4:30 in the morning, and though it’s dark in Kansas City, I’m wide-awake. Why, you rightly ask? Because it’s dawn in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and I’ve been trained for the last week to crawl out of bed at the first sign of light and watch it spill across the harbor.

We’re just returning from our bi-annual pilgrimage to the best seaside vacation spot on the planet. By “we,” I mean the whole fam-damily: my parents, my sister and her tribe, and the four Nords. This is our third such trip to Provincetown in recent years, though my memories of the place go back to early childhood, and my dad has known its beaches since the 1940s. 

Provincetown (or P-Town to the locals and wannabe locals) sits at the tippy top of Cape Cod. It’s a charming European-style village that represents (to me) the utmost in fine living. Everywhere you look, you see something beautiful: tumbling waves, skittering sea creatures, rolling sand dunes, lazy sailboats, happy children and a fat red lobster on your dinner plate.

Our group of 12 travels and lives together in P-Town (though Mom and Dad wisely procured their own sleeping quarters this year). You might imagine that wrangling six children between the ages of three and 14 in one house for seven days would be the stuff of nightmares, but it’s not. It’s wonderful. Sure, we get a daily dose of squabbling, but we also witness the development of both friendships and character among the cousins. It’s a treat to see how these kids grow and change every time we visit P-Town—how they wander a little farther into the low tide, how they dream up new adventures (like building their own spider crab battle arena), and how their social structures evolve throughout the trip.

I could share a hundred happy memories, like our first sighting of the Pilgrim Monument from the decks of the P-Town fast ferry (“land ho!”). Or the gorgeous humpback, minke and finback whales we saw out in the Atlantic. Or catching up with distant relatives over a nice gimlet. Or the late night UNO tournaments that tested the limits of our familial loyalties. Or the kids’ squeals and giggles at the discovery of the world’s largest moon snail (“All hail King Moon!”).

I have a million memories of P-Town…far too many to share and much more than you’d ever want to hear. I’ll tuck these memories away as some of my most precious possessions. I’ll keep them safe until the next time we board a plane for Boston and zip across the sea to find our happy place, just as we left it, ready to explore once again.

— Sarah