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Reuniting with the past in South Carolina

Myrtle Beach boardwalk Ferris wheel

Reuniting with my past in Myrtle Beach SC

I landed late on a Thursday night in Myrtle Beach.  Ten years have passed since I last visited here.  Nearly twenty years had passed since I lived here.  Walking through the airport, I didn’t even recognize the place.

So much had changed.

I was only here for a few days.  However, there were very few people that knew I was here.  This was a secret mission to see a few people I haven’t seen in years.

I was born and raised in South Carolina.  Nearly all of my family still lives here.  And most of them didn’t even know I was here.

As I reunited with South Carolina, I took a walk through my past, met with old friends, and planned a special surprise.

A secret mission in an old familiar place

Leaving the airport, I drove to the only two family members that knew I was in South Carolina – my aunt and uncle.

When I lived here many years ago, my aunt and uncle lived only a few miles from my house.  On my late night drive to their home, I didn’t even recognize the roads to their house.  Myrtle Beach had changed so much.

When I arrived at their house, they were already asleep.  I settled in for the evening and got ready for the weekend.  While so much seemed different, it was nice to know that a place I had spent so much of my time as a teenager was still the same.

My time in Myrtle Beach would be short as I was only here until Sunday.  Spontaneous trips are the best and that’s what I had planned on Friday.  On Saturday, I was going back in time.  On Sunday, my secret mission would be fulfilled.

What inspired this trip back to South Carolina?  I was here for my 20th high school reunion and to revisit the places I used to call home.  I also had a surprise planned – but that would wait until Sunday.

Family, old friends, and memories in Myrtle Beach

Briggs Jeremy Myrtle Beach Peaches Corner

Briggs and Jeremy – old friends hanging out in Myrtle Beach

When I awoke on Friday, I talked to my aunt and made plans for lunch in Myrtle Beach.

It was a cloudy, rainy, windy day – not ideal for spring at the beach.  However, I was excited to have lunch with my friend Briggs at Peaches Corner.  Years ago, Briggs and I had many classes together in school.  We were also teammates on the baseball team.

As I parked my car and walked to Peaches Corner, he was waiting at the door with his customary smile.  The present made acquaintances with the past as we spent an hour talking about our lives and memories.

After lunch, I wandered along the boardwalk, beach, and pier in Myrtle Beach taking photos.  A walk on the beach during the perfect storm taught me a few travel lessons about the storms of life.

I remembered September 1989 as a 14 year old when Hurricane Hugo slammed into Charleston and Myrtle Beach.  As I walked along the beach and pier today, I could barely stand.  The storm of the present made me flash back to the storms of my past.

While Myrtle Beach is a popular destination for beach lovers, this wasn’t a happy vacation spot for me.  After all, whether it’s Hawaii or Miami, I don’t spend a lot of time on the beach anyways.

However, this place was a huge part of my life.  Being back here, I was reminded of that past.

Reuniting with my past in Conway and Myrtle Beach

Jeremy home Conway SC

The house I lived in during high school

Over the next couple of days, I revisited the places and memories of my teenage years.

On Saturday, I drove by my old home and neighborhood.  I stopped to take photos of my house and the home of my friend Danny.  My house looked old and a little run down.   Memory lane looked a lot different now on Lander Drive.

I drove the short drive to Coastal Carolina University – a place where I spent a lot of time sneaking on to college baseball games, swimming, going to high school football games, and even playing baseball games on that same field as a high school baseball player.

Our high school football stadium was gone, replaced by a bigger, modern college football stadium for Coastal Carolina.  Much of the campus looked the same but the baseball stadium seemed to be going through renovations as well.

Coastal Carolina University

Coastal Carolina University

As a high school kid, I worked summers at a Myrtle Waves water park in Myrtle Beach.  Those were some of my best memories as a teenager – a lifeguard with a tan, friends from different high schools, parties, volleyball games, and a few encounters with girls.  As I drove by to take a look at the park, it looked run down and old too.

Myrtle Waves water park Myrtle Beach SC

Myrtle Waves water park – summer days as a lifeguard

On my last stop, I visited my old high school.  Conway High looked the same but a few things had changed.

My high school now had its own football stadium right next to the baseball field.  As I walked onto the baseball field and stood on the spot where I had spent many winter and spring afternoons and evenings, the field looked the same.  Yet everything was different now.

Conway baseball field Conway High school SC

I spent many hours with this view from shortstop

As I drove away from the school, my walk down memory lane was complete.

Nothing looks the same back home

Coming back to Myrtle Beach, things weren’t the same.  Old familiar places looked different and they weren’t the same as I remembered it.  A few things had improved; many things had changed.

As I looked back on my my high school days and and life memories, I was sad that the treasured memories from my past had aged.

Unlike places from my past, I hope that I’ve improved with age.

On Saturday night, it was time to find out as I met old friends and classmates at my high school reunion.

Have you visited a place from your past?  Did things look the same or were they different?  How did it make you feel to back again?

This post is a three part series about my surprise visit to South Carolina.  Check out Part II Reuniting with old friends

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  1. It is always strange going back to old haunts many years later. I live in the city of Chicago now and grew up in the suburbs. I find it strange each time I return to the suburbs and that happens many times a year, so I can only imagine what a 20 year gap might feel like.

    • To be honest, I have gone back there a few times. However, it was only for a day for Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle. Most of the time, they came to us though. I never spent time looking around and it’s the first time I had seen some of these places in 10 years. For other places, it was the first time I had been there in over 20 years. Sounds like you still enjoy going back to your old neighborhood. That must be a great thing. However, I’ve left so much of South Carolina behind – both geographically and emotionally.

  2. I love going back to places from my childhood, though a lot has changed and nothing there feels like it did when I was younger. It does provide a nice exercise in self-reflection, which is always a healthy thing.

    • Scott, you nailed. Going back to places as a kid is a great time for reflection. In most cases, those old places don’t look the same. And we don’t either. Going back there is a good time to reflect and assess where we are in life. I’ve done a lot of that since this trip.

  3. Kathryn says:

    Sometimes memories of the past are best left alone. You go back to try and recapture special moments and experiences but it is never as good as it was.
    I went to one school reunion about 10 years ago and I was sadly disappointed. I had looked forward to it SO much as my childhood memories of my primary school (age 5-12 years)in semi-rural NZ are my most special. What I discovered was that my old school had been re-built and there was very little remaining as I had remembered it. Also, most of the old school friends that I was looking forward to catching up with didn’t bother attend.
    Is going back to your past a good idea? I guess it depends on how much it has changed and if people you know are still there to reconnect with.

    • Yes, I think you are correct. If we go back to relive memories from our past to evoke special moments, they will probably disappoint. After not being here for so many years, I was curious how much had changed. I saw my old places a little more run down and old. I am sure they thought the same thing looking at me :)

      I’ll share more about why I went back for my reunion in my next post. However, it wasn’t so much about reconnecting. I think Facebook lets us do a lot of that now. It was about proving something – to myself and others.

  4. Andrea says:

    I’ve often wondered what it would be like now where I grew up in Birmingham, AL…haven’t been there in over 15 years!

    • I’ve drove through Birmingham many years ago on I-20. I bet it has changed a lot. Even where I lived in Columbia, it has changed a bit over the last 12 years. Some places stay the same. Some change. More than anything, I think our perspectives change. As we get older, I don’t think we see the same things the way we did years ago – even if they do look the same.

  5. Wendi Lee says:

    I had the pleasure of going to school and working with Jeremy at the waterpark during the summer of 1993. Even though I still live in this area, I rarely ride by and really look at the places I frequented as a kid. I haven’t visited Myrtle Waves or Conway High School in 20 years. And I rarely see any of our schoolmates, even though many of them still live in the area. Many I have not seen since we walked across the stage in our gymnasium 20 years ago. I think going back to the past is great for the soul sometimes, and it is amazing to look back to see how far you’ve truly come. May has been the month for reunions for me, for I had my 20th high school reunion and my college reunion as well. It was awesome seeing you at the reunion Jeremy- great blog!

    • Thanks for the comment Wendi. Living in the same place, we take a lot of the old stuff for granted. Honestly, I do the same living in California. So many places that are close by and I know they are there I rarely go see them. However, I spent this past weekend being a tourist in my own town. Gave me a different perspective on where I live. I see these places all the time but spending time there changed my perspective.

      Going back to SC, I wanted to see the old places since I rarely get there. Things have changed. So have I. Made me do a lot of thinking.

      Glad we got to see each other again at the reunion. It was fun catching up with old faces (not that we’re old now) :)

  6. Briggs Dickerson says:

    It was very nice catching up with you. To be honest it was like we never missed a day talking to each other. We all grow up and loose touch with friends and even places we grow up with. You know you have something special though when you can “pick up where you left off”. Good luck!!

    • Thanks Briggs. What a great comment! And yes, I agree. It’s awesome when you can pick up where you left off after not seeing someone in years. Loved hanging out and talking. Wish we had more time to do that when I was there.

  7. Leigh says:

    Some of the driving I’ve just done to various adventures in Ontario have taken me past places that I knew a bit. Last Friday night I rolled on by my university town and it does make you realize how life just keeps moving on for better or worse. The landscape was definitely worse in many of the towns – just one big box store after another and it makes me think about just how much cheap plastic stuff we need from China. The charm has disappeared from many of the small towns – but there was the odd one that maintained its roots.
    Hope the high school reunion was fun. I’ve never been to one.

    • It’s funny how things change. People may get better with age. However, seems those places from our past don’t. Of course, I am one of those who tends to think the old days were better. I still miss the experiences I had as a kid. So even though places have changed, the memories are still good.

      Another thing I’ve realized from this – don’t hold on to places, houses, towns, the way things were. I guess that’s why I love nature so much. That stays the same and always refreshes my soul.

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