My first memories of Hatteras and first love are from the summer I turned fourteen - 1966. Sure the beaches were beautiful, the stars were bright and fish were plentiful, but they are only vague memories. What stands out like a Polaroid snapshot in my mind is the first time I saw Eddie. There he was, silhouetted against the pilings at the Rodanthe pier, tall, lanky, tan, and so handsome - and seventeen? Too old for me to be talking to my mother warned me.
That summer not a word passed between us - not that I didn't try to make him notice me. Every day I paraded past his cottage on my way to the beach (but not until I was sure that he was on his deck or out by his car) hoping he would notice me. I'm sure my mother wondered why I was suddenly willing to take the younger kids for a walk along the beach several times a day, always in the direction of where his family was camped on the beach.
The summer of 67 - same cottage, same two weeks, only Eddie was eighteen and my parents treated me like I was thirteen. I was certain that he didn't even know I existed until Monday of the second week. Struggling with a cooler chest of drinks and on the way to the beach, suddenly there he was right beside me, "You need some help?" he asked.
"Sure," I managed to squeak out in my most mature voice. Several conversations ensued. He was from Emporia, Virginia; I was from Garden City, New Jersey. His aunt owned a cottage and he came each summer for several weeks. He worked part-time at the pier and knew everyone around there, and it seemed like he knew everything too? Constellations, the tides, the best bait, and which seashells were which.
The summer of 68 - sweet sixteen and I couldn't wait to get to the beach. We weren't out of the car ten minutes when I found an excuse to go to the pier. For two weeks, we were inseparable. We walked the beach and talked, talked, talked. Music, movies, schools, friends, the war, politics. Then all too soon it was time to leave. We promised to write and made plans for Thanksgiving. I imagined how my friends would react when he escorted me to my prom. I honestly don't know what happened. At first we wrote frequently, then occasionally, and then we just stopped. Someone else asked me to the prom. The next summer I went to Europe with my French class.
Afterwards, I still came to Hatteras, occasionally for a while with my family, then with friends, later with my husband and daughters, then as a single mom, kids in tow. And I must confess, every time I looked at the pier after an absence I expected to see Eddie - tall, lanky, tan, and silhouetted against the pilings.
1997- It had been over twelve years since I'd come to Hatteras, and boy had things changed. This was my first trip by myself. Long walks on the beach, lots of reading, up early to see the sunrise, and Wednesday night dinner at the Down Under. Needless to say, I felt awkward occupying a table by myself while families waited for a space. Across the room at a table for five came a vaguely familiar laugh. It seemed to come from a man with his back toward me. I caught myself listening for snippets, but shrugged the haunting feeling off and hurried to free up my table for a waiting couple.
Paying my bill at the register, I heard my name called from somewhere behind me, "Amy?" I knew at once what had seemed so familiar earlier.
"Eddie." We both stood in stunned disbelief. Before I knew it, I was back at his table, oblivious to everyone else in the room. Thursday, Friday, Saturday filled in the missing gaps of twenty-nine years. My college years, marriage, children, divorce, career. Before he turned twenty, Eddie was drafted; within six months he was in Vietnam. Eight months into his tour he was wounded, rehab in San Diego, and then settled on the west coast.
Summer 99 - Yesterday Eddie and I exchanged vows on the beach in front of a small group of family and friends. As I look to the pier, there is Eddie - tall, lanky, tan, and handsome.
Amy & Eddie was discovered left in a guestbook by an anonymous guest back in the Summer of 1999.
Voices of the Outer Banks seeks to tell the stories that make the Outer Banks special. If you know of a story that belongs here, or know of someone on the Outer Banks whose story should be told, please let us know! You can submit a story (anonymously if you choose) or a story idea to us by clicking here.