With two old friends and their families, we’ve spent the week on a tiny island off the coast of North Carolina. My friends and I became friends in our mid-twenties in Washington, D.C. We were young and unmarried. These women know things about me, and I about them. Getting to spend significant time with each other and have the opportunity to know each other all over again has been a gift.
We’ve spent the week near the tip of this tiny island, where a large triangular swath of sand juts into the ocean. It’s called Cape Fear — yes, like the movie. (And in the trivia department: this week I learned that Cape Fear is the fifth-oldest surviving English place name in the country. It was named in 1585 when a ship’s crew became afraid their boat would sink after it got stuck in a sandbar near the cape).
The island has no cars and is as idyllic as it gets in the American South, or just about anywhere, in my book. As one of my friends said, it has been a week to do little but focus on the simple things of life — friends, food and family. We cooked a lot and cleaned a little. We ate like kings and queens. Our biggest decisions were what time to head to the beach or if we should have ice cream or sorbet.
We threw indoor boomerangs. We sang James Taylor and Van Morrison. We danced a dance called Taco Bell. In the dark of late, late night, we waited for sea turtles to come ashore and lay their eggs. We found the Milky Way, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper and a million more stars in a sky as dark as ink.
As our daughters learned to surf, one of my friends found a whole sand dollar. The rest of us found the sand dollar equivalent of spare change. Throughout the week, we laughed long and loud. We had plenty of time to catch up and philosophize.
With our toes in the sand, we counted the waves and our children’s bobbing heads in the water. Between regular intervals of abundant sunscreen lathering, we discussed whatever came to our minds.
By mid-week, we had covered politics, parenting and our favorite movies. We sat around the dinner table one night discussing the geographical details of our surroundings, Cape Fear specifically. We were comparing the island’s actual promontory to the nearby general region around Wilmington that has also taken the name.
One of the girls said, “I thought Cape Fear was the tip of Africa.”
“Nope, that’s the Cape of Good Hope,” several adults said in unison.
But we all understood how she got the two confused.
Hope and fear.
Emotions that play off of each other.
Emotions that drive us and so much of what we do.
Emotions that control so much of our interactions with others.
Hope is the opposite of fear. Fear is the opposite of hope.
We get to choose.
On the sands of Cape Fear, we chose hope.