A pictures's worth a thousand words.
Hanging in one of the bedrooms of this little white house on the ocean that I have been renting for eighteen years now, is an enlargement of a black and white photograph.
In the old (pre-Photoshop days) picture, an enormous wave, hurricane like in its size and menacing swell, curls over a few tiny oceanfront houses scattered along the mostly undeveloped shoreline of Kitty Hawk.
A closer look reveals that the small house near the center of the photo is the one I am standing in.
The one I come back to every year for a week or two, depending on my pocketbook.
The house in the picture looks exactly the same as it does today; only the proximity of the other houses has changed.
Where there was once long stretches between houses, now they are filled with other cottages, some rustic and many newer.
When I first began renting this particular house, it had no telephone, which I loved.
Until last summer, it had no air conditioning. Now it has three window units which I resent mightily.
The house sits close to the ocean, more so now even than before Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
With every window open during the time I am here, it's like being surrounded by the sun, wind and water.
All three come through every door and window from sunrise to sunset, ensuring that we never have to wonder what the weather is.
Today the water reached a week-long high of seventy five degrees, so warm it is like bath water.
Not once but twice today, a school of dolphins swam so close by that some people floated on rafts further out than where they jumped.
After an extended happy hour on the screened porch overlooking the ocean, we took a group vote and decided to let someone else cook for our last night.
We played "follow the leader" the eighth of a mile to the Rundown Cafe, which is no longer rundown.
When I first started going there in the '90s, it was a beach shack with a limited menu for locals.
Once they built a rickety deck on the roof, it was the perfect place for a few drinks once the sun went down.
And if the deck shifted a bit as we lingered on the roof, we chalked it up to the cocktails.
It's since been renovated (twice, I think) and is a bloated shadow of its former self, although the vintage surfboards and other beach ephemera haven't changed.
So we sat on the deck facing the ocean and ate locally caught mahi, fried up into fish bites, served with a ginger habanero sauce and some fabulous pickled cabbage.
I sipped tequila as we ate pound after pound of locally caught shrimp and the sun finally sank behind the sound.
Walking back toward the house, many of the houses were lit up from within, providing a voyeuristic thrill for the nosy among us.
Me, I couldn't have cared less what was going on anywhere else on the beach.
Let's just say that vacation has been very, very good to me.
But I will miss the constant sound of the surf. It unwinds me like nothing else can.
After nearly a week at the seaside, I am as relaxed as I could hope to be.
Someone even told me today that it showed on my face.
Maybe I should take a picture.