Avalon of Catalina Island is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. This magical little town in the heart of a beautiful island is a place that has totally captivated my soul for many years now. I consider it to be a big part of who I am, as my immediate family would go a couple times a year and always once every summer for a reunion with our extended family. We no longer make the annual trips, yet I feel I have a deeper connection with the island now that I’ve been removed from it for awhile. I’ve had a chance to appreciate all that it’s quirky environment offered my family and to imagine the joy it has brought to so many families since the late 1800s. Calling to mind that midnight, blue water gently lapping on the side of our boat at night comforts me to my core, the thought of the charming tolls of the bell tower make my heart beat a little faster and even though I haven’t tanned in four years, I swear, that warm, Avalon sun still radiates from within me. No joke; it is quite a love affair that I have with this place.
It’s amazing to think of how much my family had changed during the 14 years we took the 3 hour excursion to Catalina. With the new additions to the family almost every year, the growing into adults between us cousins, and with my mother and stepfather finally tying the knot in Avalon, our clan grew big and happy and Catalina was always there to experience the newest version of the Ibey/Cott/Bingham/Davis family. And yet, it’s heartaching to think about the difficult changes that have happened with the family in the 5 years since those cherished reunions came to an end.
But that’s life. Just like Avalon has transformed in the last 100 years of being a town, the people and places in my life are constantly evolving, as they are never completely finished growing and always changing. And sometimes those changes totally suck. They make me feel like my sea-sick, ten-year-old self after I ate a giant breakfast before our boat left the mainland for Avalon. And currently, I’m still in the throws of those endless waves, as I try to patiently wait for how my family will be redefined. Because at the moment, relationships are getting uncomfortably shuffled and they feel nothing like the ones we had during our times in Catalina and that’s deeply upsetting to me. But eventually, each of my relationships with my family will settle into calmer, yet different waters. And once the seemingly boundless waves stop churning my insides, I will feel safe in being able to say that each of my parents are here for me now in a brand new way than before.
It’s been hard for my family and I to not have Catalina to rely on to bring us together. And although the island gave us endless joy, I think it needs to be out of our lives for now, while we try to figure out how to be a family without it. Avalon will always be there. And so too my family, in whatever shape it decides to be. In the meantime, while the waves keep tumbling, I’ll learn to surf.
Happy Birthday, Avalon.
Photos taken by me.
And here’s Al Jolson’s “Avalon” that transports you back in time.