Home – What a Beautiful Word

They say you can’t go home again. I don’t know who they are or why they don’t want me to go home. They aren’t the boss of me!

I was born and raised in Maryland. The two houses I lived in are still there, and when I drive past them I know in my head they aren’t my home. But my heart still keeps a piece of them. The first house is occupied by a lovely woman who let us go in and look around during a trip a dozen years ago. This house was probably built in the 1930s. I lived there until I was five, but since my grandparents lived across the street from it, I remember it well – at least the outside.

Bob and I moved to Florida in 1976, and it definitely is home. I can’t think of another place where I would rather live, but there are a few things that tug at me when it comes to Maryland – or should I say bite at my toes, get under my fingernails, and make me reach for a mallet. And those things are connected with summer, so when Bob and I decided to take a trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina, to celebrate his retirement with our entire clan, it was only natural that I asked if he and I could pop up to the Maryland area for dinner on our way home. After all, we were halfway there!

Bob was game! What better way to both celebrate his retirement and get some rest, after a week of 18 of us together in the same house, than a road trip for a steamed crab feast. (Side note: if you’ve followed me for a while, you may know that I am directionally challenged. True, I will make a face if you tell me to go east toward a destination when you could have simply said – turn right! And, I am aware that Maryland and Virginia are not on the way home to Florida, but sometimes one simply must take the scenic route if only for gastronomic reasons.)

After nine hours on the road, we landed in Williamsburg, Virginia. Again, I know this is not Maryland, but this destination seemed close enough to our longed-for crab feast. When I was a kid, blue crabs were easy to come by. We were confident we would have no trouble locating some. We were wrong.

Suddenly, I was lamenting choosing Virginia over tried-and-true Maryland. Maryland had never let me down in the crab department. I kept seeing “Virginia is For Lovers” signs, and just scoffed at them. I am a steamed-crab lover. Where were they, Virginia? Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And, yes, Virginia, you have some powerful historic sites and beautiful mountains and beaches. Yes, Virginia, Chincoteague Island was interesting as are the wild ponies who live there. But, where are the crabs?

Chincoteague Island was on my bucket list. It’s part of the Virginia Eastern Shore, which is just south (catch that) of the Maryland Eastern Shore. There should have been crabs for sale everywhere. The Chesapeake Bay is right there! We went over it, under it, and around it, thanks to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. But there were no streets lined with crabs – no signs pointing to crabs. It was heartbreaking.

Thankfully, Virginia, you did have internet service, and that’s how we found Edwards Seafood in Onley, Virginia. Onley was the only place we found the illusive steamed blue crabs. Well, I did find a crazy restaurant that said we could get 3 for $18. I was almost desperate enough to do it, too, but the woman on the other end of the phone had an accent that didn’t sound like their crabs were going to be steamed with Old Bay seasoning. Yeah, she quickly answered me when I asked, “Yes, we have Old Bay. Yes, we cook them just like you like them – 3 for $18.” Something seemed fishy, so we kept looking.

We pulled up to Edwards Seafood just ten minutes before they closed. It wasn’t a restaurant – it was a seafood market. They knew how to steam crabs though, and soon we were headed back to Williamsburg with a dozen and a half of those delectable, messy crustaceans with their familiar Old Bay fragrance wafting through our car. By that time, if you added it all up, we had traveled approximately 13 hours over 2 days for our dinner. Worth it!

For the next couple of hours we picked crabs, drank diet coke, and made a huge mess of the condo we were staying in. Crab picking is far from tidy work. We spread plastic trash bags over the table and moved the trash can to within reach. It was sublime. At that moment, the worlds of “home” collided. We had Maryland-style steamed crabs, even if we were in Virginia. We had just spent a week with all our kids and grandkids. We stood on the balcony and watched as the fireflies played at dusk. Memories of my childhood intersected with the joy of having spent a week with our family. Soon we would return to Florida, but at that moment I had my husband there with me and we clinked our crabs together in a toast to the past, present, and future.

We exchanged idioms about home, including the ever famous, “Home is where you hang your hat.” True, I reminded Bob, but you know I don’t wear many hats because I have a ginormous head and those hats I wear I don’t hang. I think home is where you hang your heart.”

My heart has been hanging right next to this guy for going on 46 years. Happy Retirement, Bob! Where shall we go to dinner next?

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11 Comments

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed your crabs. The only crabs I endure are those that some call trolls!
    (And, I would pick Virginia over Maryland any day of the week. Of course, Virginia is NOT at the top of my list, either.)

    Reply
    • If I had to live in one of the two states, Virginia would win. Where I was born near Baltimore and where I was raised near Andrews AF are not quite the same anymore. Most of my family and friends from up there have either moved to Virginia or to the Eastern Shore of MD. Thanks for commenting. Nice to hear from you. Hope you are doing well.

      Reply
      • Jenn

         /  July 8, 2021

        I forgot youre from Maryland! Which part are you from? We went to G&M in Linthicum last week and had a crab cake sandwich. Maryland has the best crabs hands down.

        Reply
        • I agree about the crabs. I was born in Ferndale and raised in Camp Springs near Andrews AFB. Ive been to G&M! They are amazing and almost as good as my Aunt Dee used to make. I’m glad you get to enjoy Maryland crabs. They’re the best. Thanks for commenting.

          Reply
  2. Genie Harris

     /  July 9, 2021

    Congratulations! You guys look great! So glad you made some wonderful memories — and ate some great crab!!

    Reply
  3. Thank you! We are pretty pumped about Bob’s retirement, and the crabs were delicious!

    Reply
  4. Leslie C Richardson

     /  July 16, 2021

    You are hilarious!! And I am SOOOOO jealous! To be have been raised there, and develop an allergy to shellfish. I could smell the Old Bay through the laptop screen just now. Congrats on your retirement, Bob! We’ll be heading over your way in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully we can make a stop, maybe take you to dinner, without crabs. 💕

    Reply
  5. Congrats and for next time? May I recommend Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster in South Freeport, Maine? If you go there, plan on mid to late August and call ahead to see if they have “soft-shell lobster” in the traps. It is also worth the trip! 😊
    http://www.harraseeketlunchandlobster.com/

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment and recommendation. Maine would be a bit more of a drive from down here in Florida – but well worth it. We went in 2019 (before COVID) and I ate an embarrassing amount of lobster. We stayed in Booth Bay. I must return! I’ll put South Freeport on my list.

      Reply
      • We found it by deciding to drive as close to the coast as we could rather than stay on 295. We left the interstate just north of Portland after Black Cove and went to highway 1 by East Deering; drove Foreside Rd till we had to go back to #1 by Royal River. That’s when we found “So Free ME” (t-shirts have that 😉) and Wolf Neck Woods state park. Amazing places‼️🙂

        Reply

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