Jan 27, 2023, 05:55AM

Welcome to My Fake National Park 

The perfect spot to watch it all go to hell.

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I’m convinced that one of the measures of success in life is the ability to adapt to change. That doesn’t mean one prefers or wholeheartedly welcomes change, but simply that when it comes, one sees it as an inevitable part of living and adjusts accordingly with a minimum amount of hysteria. Resistance to change, as we learned on Star Trek, is futile.

In the past two months, I’ve been deluged by a tsunami of change. I’m a shitty surfer—but when I learned, my friends in California taught me this about surfing—there are no bad or good surfers, there only those who surf and those who don’t.

I moved my personal living quarters—from a very pretty waterfront cottage on the river side of the island to a beautiful mid-century waterfront house on the Chesapeake Bay side of the island where I lived 10 years ago. I wrote then about the rising waters of the Chesapeake Bay, and the difference in this property is incredible. It’ll be harrowing to report about coastal erosion from this front-row seat, and if a big hurricane comes I'm fucked, but I feel lucky to return to the gorgeous, peaceful spot.

The increased rent meant I had to give up my brick-and-mortar museum and shop building on the island, so now I’m currently moving out of that building too. That’s tough. Although the bigger house had space for my candlemaking studio at home, giving up the beachcombing museum that was a years-long dream and effort felt like a failure.

Along with some other challenges in 2022, I’ve struggled with depression over all the changes. I know that once the move is complete in the next month and I’m settled into my new space where I’m also working on a memoir, things will be okay.

There’s a tiny waterfront park (it’s two benches) beside my house; I’m not even sure how it managed to get “park” sign status. I now refer to it as the “national park” on the island and have declared myself the ranger.

The squat, flat roof concrete Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired mid-century style of the house designates it appropriately for what’s known as “park-itecture.” My huge picture windows overlook the people who come to walk dogs, take photos of the sun setting over the Chesapeake, jog, do yoga, etc.—and watch out, unruly teenage drinkers, there’s a new sheriff in town, and she’s ready to get herself a ranger uniform and shine a bright flashlight on your shenanigans. My soon-to-be son-in-law is an actual real life park ranger, and he better lock up that hat when Mom comes over. 

I’ve been picking up trash, doing landscape trimmings, and other fake national park duties, and named the WiFi for the national park. I have a burning desire to order cute stickers and postcards, as well as a megaphone to randomly welcome people and remind them that the park closes at sundown, please clean up after their pets and ‘leave no trace.” I feel a sign is needed to inform people about the danger of forest fire. My career as a retail shop owner and museum curator may not have worked out, so I guess we’ll see how my career as a fake national park ranger goes.

—Follow Mary McCarthy on social media.


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