Archived Opinion

Our Edisto story is still being written

op edistoEDISTO ISLAND, SC — Whether it is a time-honored family tradition or simply the very real possibility that, as a family, we share a stunning lack of imagination, the Cox family always spends a week on Edisto Island every summer.

This year marks our eighth consecutive summer vacation here, and the fifth time that we have stayed in the very same condominium, one with a spiral staircase that entranced my daughter when she was 6 years old and still dressing as Tinkerbell for Halloween. Now that she is 14, the staircase has lost its magical properties — it is now just a way to get from one floor to the next, and that’s it. These days, she is more interested in watching design shows with her mother and debating decisions on kitchen rebuilds, or vanishing suddenly for an hour or two to text her friends back home about how completely ridiculous and weird her life is, and she is, and they are.

My son is 10 and has no memory of ever going to any other beach, although we did make a couple of trips to Sunset Beach when he was a baby. On those trips, he spent most of his time in a jumper bouncing up and down in a doorway and drinking apple juice in a sippy cup, one eye on SpongeBob SquarePants and one on his sister. Back then, he wasn’t much taller than a roll of paper towels. Now he’s big enough to kill a small bear with a pocket knife, spending most of his time eating everything that is not hidden or healthy.

For us, Edisto Beach is like a favorite pair of comfortable shoes — it has that warm, familiar sensation that feels “just right.” But it is so much more than that. These years we’ve spent on the island tell a story, a lot of stories, actually, and I feel sure that these stories will be remembered, revived, savored, and passed on. That is important.

For the past two or three years, we have considered other destinations for our summer vacation, but in the end we keep deciding that there is more of the story we want to write at Edisto, so here we go again, having decided this year to bring our miniature dachshund instead of putting him up in “puppy camp,” as we euphemistically call the boarding kennel where he usually stays.

Ordinarily, we can make it to Edisto in about five hours or so, but this year, thanks to approximately 263 miles of road construction, it is going to take us closer to eight, which gives us plenty of time to play road games or argue over just how loud we can crank up Lynyrd Skynyrd without damaging the kids’ ears. Mine are already gone, like “Tuesday’s Gone,” with the wind.

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Then my wife gets an idea.

“I want you to turn that down a minute and admit something,” she says. “Admit that without me, you could not pull this off.”

 “Say what?” I say.

“Packing for the beach, I mean,” she clarified. “Without me, you wouldn’t remember half of what we need.”

It is true. I am not a very organized packer. I do well to pick out a few books and CDs for the road. I am the kind of person who thinks he doesn’t need a list for the grocery store, so I end up having to go back three times to get the right ingredients to make spaghetti. The very idea of packing for a week at the beach is beyond anything I can fathom.

My wife, on the other hand, is a vacation artist. Two days before we were set to leave, she sent me an Excel spreadsheet with approximately 500 items listed on it. There were columns for each family member, and a column for the dog. There were columns for each room in the condo. Items were subdivided by animal, vegetable, and mineral. Her spreadsheet looked like the math problems Matt Damon worked out in “Good Will Hunting,” beyond the understanding of mere mortals.

“This is what we need,” the email read. “Can you and the kids start working on it before I get home?”

Sure, I thought, the kids and I and a team from MIT.

 “Well?” she asked again, snapping me out of my reverie. “Will you admit that you could not do this without me?”

“I absolutely could not,” I say. “You are the Rembrandt of packing for a vacation. You’re like Mozart composing a symphony. You’re like John Keats writing an ode.”

“That’s better,” she sighed. “You can turn up Lynyrd Skynyrd now.”

“Mom?” a voice calls out from the back. “Did you eat all the Twizzlers?”

Edisto Island, here we come. Eventually.

(Chris Cox is a writer and teacher who lives in Haywood County. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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