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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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