S. Whitney Holmes is a writer and editor in New York City. By day, she crosses the Ts on Travelzoo deals (and makes time to book them for herself!); by night, she works as an editor for the feminist poetry press Switchback Books and for the online magazine, The Offending Adam. She is the author of a book of poems, Room Where I Get What I Want (Black Ocean, 2015). As a child and young adult, she went to Myrtle Beach often, and always ran into other folks from back home in West Virginia who had made the same pilgrimage. Myrtle Beach is currently a Travelzoo Featured Destination, where readers can find deals to get them to this magical beach town.
Dear Myrtle Beach,
You were never the closest beach, but we chose you most often. Crayons melted in their boxes in the backseat of my parent's four-door sedan on the 8-hour drive from West Virginia. In the backseat, my sister and I never needed ask if we were there yet. Upon arrival, the windows magically rolled down. The salty air stung our noses.
I miss the pronounced tan lines snaking around your biceps, drawing horizontal lines across your thighs. You wouldn't be caught dead in a Speedo! Yours is the ultimate comfort. When I'm with you -- walking the boardwalk in flip flops and an oversized T-shirt over my bathing suit -- my body feels light and my shoulders never burn.
You gave me my first henna tattoo and still my best: A temporary escape from myself, a fleeting rebellion. The elaborate curlicues on my low back -- where else would it be? -- a memory that came home with me in the car.
You're a realist. You supply us our endless crab leg buffets, but -- even better -- you offer the comfort of mom's PB&J. Your properties' kitchenettes make us feel at home. Each morning we visited you, we kids greedily poured our favorite cereals into bright, round bowls while our parents slept in. We hurried out to the beaches, ignoring the warnings to wait 20 minutes after our meal.
People always talk about your beachfront condos and boardwalk amusements, but I know you're deeper than that. You've got a poetic side. I often gaze at an old photograph of us, posed beneath the arch of gnarled tree branches at Brookgreen Gardens. I don't remember when I decided I wanted to be a poet, but it may as well have been beneath the magnolias and crape myrtles of that expansive garden. What truer call to art is there than the gilded Dionysus in the center of that sculpture garden, rising from the lush green shrubbery ringed in coral blooms? More to the point: It was there that I first realized I loved you.
Listen. I've looked a fool chasing after the bronze-bodied playboys of Miami, and I've been left shivering in the rain on Virginia Beach with a broken heart. But you are the Goldilocks of beach towns. You are warm and accepting. You are just right.
Let's meet up, for old time's sake. I'll recognize you by your acres of mini golf and outlet malls. You'll recognize me by my hair.