No matter where I’ve gone in the past few years, I’ve gotten the same response. From visiting friends in New England, to Florida, to as far out as Wisconsin, I hear the same thing when I tell them where I work: “Oh, we just love Cape May!”
Well, of course you do, what’s not to love? Those of us who live here do what everyone does with their own backyard: Take it for granted. We tend to forget that we were once the people from “away” who envied those fortunate enough to live and work here. So, it gives me a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling to listen to people who realize, sometimes more than I do, how lucky I am to be a part this historic seaside town.
And why wouldn’t they envy us? If working with the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) has done nothing else for me, it has opened my eyes to the treasures in my own back yard. As New Englanders, Cape May County was our vacation destination for so many years that, when we finally moved here, we never really looked for a different vacation spot. We were, after all, living in it. But, by falling into the rhythm of daily life, we neglected some of the “exploration” that’s a natural part of a vacation.
I think most of us “transplants” have done the same thing. We’re so content to be living here that we’re not as well-acquainted with some of the wonders of Cape May as some of our visitors are. Working with MAC, I have once again begun to enjoy those pursuits that all too often fall under the heading of “vacation stuff.” I walk through the rooms of the Physick mansion so often, on my way to meetings and other routine tasks of my workday life, that listening to the glowing comments from folks from out of town gives me a whole new perspective.
Like a New Year’s resolution, I don’t know how well I’ll succeed, but I’m going to try to do and see some of these treasures, not only to enjoy them all over again, but to remind myself how lucky I am to be able to see them whenever I want to, unlike the days when a visit began with a five-hour drive.
I think all of us living here should do the same thing. Just because your kids are growing up here doesn’t mean they wouldn’t get the same kick out of climbing the Cape May Lighthouse as a kid from Pennsylvania or Connecticut would. Anyone who is a veteran or a family member of a vet should visit the World War II Tower and renew their pride in what they or their family member did for the freedom we enjoy today. And a visit to the Physick Estate, and a lifestyle where “wireless” had a whole different meaning, is an experience not to be missed. It’s good to be reminded that the residents of the Physick house were living through a technological revolution of their own, and the advent of such commonplace things as lighting and heating or communication devices brought as much change to their lives as iPads and apps bring to ours.
So before you gas up the car and pack up the family for a vacation getaway, enjoy one in your own backyard. That’s what I plan to do.