Where it All Began: ‘The Summer of 19 You and Me’ reveals why we keep returning to Myrtle Beach
Sometimes every answer seems inadequate. But a simple song with idyllic images can capture love better than 50,000 words ever could.
“19 You + Me” went platinum with more than 1 million downloads. It’s become a perennial summer song, an anthem to why Americans love Myrtle Beach: “Watching that blonde hair swing to every song I sing.”
Far more amazingly, when you watch the official music video, you learn:
- Why humanity longs for a perfect paradise where pure love is possible.
- Why love seems so fleeting.
- Why people never seem to stay in a perfect place for very long: We never feel ready to get to — or stay in — paradise. Something tells us we still have work to do to get there.
During the peak of the pandemic, lockdowns shut down hotels for several weeks. When widespread visits resumed in spring 2020, restrictions could create a sense of isolation, what John Milton called the ability to turn minds into “a universe” where thoughts “can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
That doesn’t mean we don’t always crave more, knawing on “heavenly appetizers” of that paradise we hope will come someday. So we make trips, traveling to taste a bit of Heaven on earth.
“It was our first week, at Myrtle Beach — where it all began,’’ the duo sings. “Can still hear that sound — of every wave crashin’ down. Like the tears we cried that day we had to leave: It was everything we wanted it to be.”
What’s a better description of paradise than “it was everything we wanted it to be?”
You feel the agony and ecstasy of young love, of wanting it all but feeling time pull you away as Dan + Shay sing, “Tangled up, so in love, you said let’s just stay right here.”
Why do you love Myrtle Beach so much? The spiritual answer
Our spiritual director asked, “Why do you love Myrtle Beach so much?” We kept coming up with different answers, but none seemed to “nail it.”
Can we find a glimpse of this beloved place in the Bible? Isaiah 55 begins with “An Invitation to Abundant Life… Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!” It concludes:
“Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 55:13 ESV).
Our family lived in Myrtle Beach from 1987 to 1990, my first full-time job after graduating. Our eldest was born there. Then, Hurricane Hugo arrived on September 22, 1989, transforming the Grand Strand and us. The big stories helped us to move on to bigger cities and better-paying opportunities.
We kept coming back to Myrtle on vacations and trips ever after. So Myrtle Beach, and places like River City Cafe, Sea Captain’s House, Pulaski Deli, Pier 14, Nacho Hippo, Broadway at the Beach, and Lulu’s Cafe always “feel like home.”
Feeling like you’re home is a prerequisite for how Heaven is supposed to be.
In real life, the worldly demands of being a 22-years-old means you can’t afford to live in “the best spot” right on the beach close to the boardwalk. However, by your mid-50s, you can afford to get that “place on the best part of the beach,” assuming you buy into a timeshare.
Suddenly, you can actually feel “in the club,” like you’re living happily ever after, but you know it’s just a “free sample” of the eternal paradise to come.
You realize life is a test lasting roughly 100 years or less, that your life is about getting ready for that eternity to come. So you find your calling, vocation, and work to better yourself and become the best version of yourself. That’s why we work, why writers write.
It possibly explains one of the reasons Adam and Eve didn’t get to stay in the Garden of Eden, because they longed to “be like God” before they were ready, like little kids imitating Daddy by trying to smoke his cigarettes before they were ready.
Even when we are created in our Father’s image, we still have some maturing to do before we can really walk in His footsteps. It’s like the photos parents take of little boys trying on their father’s shoes and seeing the shoes are so big they can’t possibly walk more than a few steps in such big shoes.
Free samples: Tastes of the glory? What’s magic about Myrtle?
Why don’t we move there? Because when you live in Myrtle Beach, you get a home and a job or a retiree’s schedule with a regular sort of house (an earthly life).
But life is actually all about finding the One who completes you, living a life of experiences preparing you for an eternity to come (Luke 23:43).
When you live in Myrtle Beach, your “real life” takes up so much of your time that you find yourself taking paradise for granted, forgetting to walk over to the beach and look at the ocean and enjoy the glory of Creator and created colliding with every new sunrise and wave.
But when you live in the real world and make occasional “visits to paradise,” you remind yourself throughout the fleeting visit that life is about the journey, to make the most of every moment and step along the way.
“If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Proverbs 139: 9–10, ESV).
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