Be a lighthouse

Published 8:00 am Saturday, June 11, 2022

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This month, I’m going on a road trip along the coast of South Carolina to see all 9 of our state lighthouses.

I planned my itinerary, have every lighthouse’s ghost story memorized, and I know all the fun facts about them. I’ve been waiting to do this for about ten years. Now, the time has come, my friends. I’m going to drive to Georgetown first, then make my way down the coast, pop in at a couple lighthouses in the Charleston area, then make my way to Hilton Head Island. The trip will end with an hour ferry ride to a tiny island that borders Georgia, where I’ll find the last two lighthouses (stay tuned – one of them is featured in my novel that will be published this fall).

Anyway, let’s go back to when I was fourteen years old.

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Picture it: I’m a tiny little teenager with braces and the frizziest hair you’ve ever seen. And I’m utterly obsessed with lighthouses.

So my family took a trip to Hilton Head Island, where there was a lighthouse that I’d recently discovered was hidden on a golf course. It was old and no longer active, and was once used for a lookout tower during the World Wars. Of course, there was a ghost story that I was fascinated with, accompanied by rumors that a girl in a blue dress haunts the island.

We walked up to the structure––this skeletal lighthouse standing stately and towering over the oaks. I was stunned.  Star-struck.

I’ve visited some other lighthouses in the state, but did I get a picture in front of each one to prove I was there? No.

I visited the lighthouse on Hunting Island last year, and I remember that moment being too windy to enjoy myself, all the while my back was getting burned from the sun.

What have I to say in my defense of this strange obsession?

Well, seeing all of S.C.’s lighthouses was my very first bucket list item. I found the poetry in these abandoned things that used to draw ships into the harbor. I liked that they survived over a century of hurricanes. There was a certain romance in lighting a lantern that would be spotted through the dark, from a ship in the ocean, and a captain following it all the way to safety. More than any of that, though––at my grandpa’s funeral when I was ten years old, a friend of our family sang a song called “The Lighthouse.”

Turns out, that’s what got the ball rolling. I memorized the song, loved the message, and realized how overlooked lighthouses really are. Listen, I’m not much of a history person, but the history of beacons, especially ones I lived only hours away from, really sucked me into their stories.

Perhaps that’s why I’m an author now? Hmm. . .

My message is this: We’re all lighthouses, kind of. Aren’t we all survivors of our own storms? Someone always runs to you for safety, whether it’s a child, a spouse, or a friend. We have a history. We’re all different ages and have different stories and stripes (I’m not calling you old, abandoned, or haunted, by the way)

Let me get to the point, because my message is actually this: BE a lighthouse. Help. Guide. And be someone’s light they need in their dark ocean. In the end, it’ll be a story worth traveling to hear.

Now for the rest of my stories.