This is a love fest so if you’re fighting with your mom or pissed at your sister. Skip it. Haha
For the past 12 years I have spent two weeks in Corolla on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with people that have without doubt become family. I met Jodie Rusznak 14 years ago when I was (incidentally) 14 years old playing at my friend Jessica’s house. At the time my family was living in a very “picturesque” subdivision; manicured lawns, dad’s drinking beers and barbecuing in the garage, mom’s getting family dinner ready and kids…. So many kids. We lived in a world before the housing market crashed and college seemed uncertain, before my step-dad died and my world was turned upside unlike anything I had ever known, before we knew there were black kids getting shot across America for doing the exact same things we were doing. We rode our bikes, walked to the creek and (as if it were 1950 because for better and for worse Louisville, Ohio feels like that sometimes) all had to be home when the streetlights came on. It was a different world living in Shallow Creek in 2004. Jodie was painting her shutters with a 3 year old Jolie Mia and 1 year old Jace Cameron playing in the grass at her feet. She shouted over to Jessica and myself asking if either of us babysat to which we both eagerly replied “YES!”. We had cars in our future and were saving up! If we’re being realistic, the reason I have been blessed with this undeniably lifelong relationship is because Jessica added “I just don’t do diapers” and I said “I WILL!”! That was it. I adored playing with the kids, making little lesson plans and doing art. I couldn’t get enough of them, while at the same time, a screaming baby is an excellent source of birth control for high schooler. Jason and Jodie would come home after the kids were asleep and we would talk for hours. It was family.
Jason and Jodie started taking me to the beach with them after their family had grown with the additions of Jarett Case and Jennings Conrad (Yes…. They’re all J’s haha) so they needed extra hands. The Rusznak children, along with the Similes (the other family who joins us at the 4 Z’s Inn), have long sense grown into these incredible young adults who are compassionate and smart and funny and I could stare at them for hours just thinking about the magic they embody. They were the first humans I felt responsible for and my first go at this unconditional love thing. I swear to god I would go to the ends of the earth for any of these kids; even though by now half of them by now are adults and taller than me!
While Michael, Spencer, Anna, Jolie, Jace, Jarett and Jennings are stand out children, it is 100% because of the above-average love, support and guidance they’ve received from their parents. Mike and Julie Simile and Jason and Jodie Rusznak. For years, the Rusznak Household was my refuge. I was in their home weekly for years. When my grandpa died, when my step-dad died, when I graduated from high school. My life has always had an element of excitement, danger and high energy. To have a constant place of calm (yea, a home with 4 children felt calmer to me than my only-child home), stability and consistency. Both couples have great marriages and while I know they have their own struggles, are parenting like champs. I’m so grateful to have such great role models in my life.
The beach is always the same and that’s part of why I love it. 4 Zs Inn. Whalehead Club. Beach. Pool. Peanut butter and fluff sandwiches. Outdoor shower. Euchre. Bikes. Bagels. Beach cart. Reading. Long talks. Tim Buck 2. Walks on the beach. Art Show. Book Store. Bocce. It allows us to reset and reconnect with those we love and I’m so honored to continue being worthy of an invite.
This is my vacation within a vacation post because while I did spend my usual 2 weeks in the Outer Banks, I spent the middle weekend in Lewes, Delaware with my oldest friends sending Dan off to Shanghi with our love, support and encouragement. That’s right, I’m friends with a bonafide Diplomat! Very cool, but that also means that 1/4 of our Dream Team will be spending the next 2 years in China serving the Department of State and we will miss him! For four twenty-somethings we’re very close what with no spouses or babies yet. We talk daily in our group message and I truly do not know what I would do without that friendship. The first town in the first state has a cute downtown with old manor homes repurposed into restaurants and shops that support their nice foodie scene, beautiful beaches and now some very special memories of my 28th birthday and Dan’s going away weekend. These last three years have been tough, but I’m going into 28 confident that it is really my year; a turning point in a way. I know because from starting off with champagne, to being with my best friends, the beach, my all-time favorite beer on tap and ending with a delicious, homemade Italian family dinner is my perfect day; if my perfect day exists why can’t my perfect year?! Nay, Life?! They will never know the joy they invoke in me. How could I not be joyful on my vacation within a vacation My beach days might be coming close to a close for summer 2017, but it was 2 weeks worth of my heart being full of the love and energy of my most special people in the world!