COROLLA, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — “Any time I’m out at night, I know exactly what 17 seconds of darkness feels like,” said Meghan Agresto.
On the edge of nowhere, it’s often the only warning between a sailor and a shipwreck.
Without it, uncertainty.
But with it? Relief.
Because there are those whose job is to keep the light on, always.
“If you had this job, you would not leave,” said Meghan.
For the last 17 years, Meghan has been one of the lightkeepers living and working at the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Her two sons grew up at the lighthouse and her family is the last in North Carolina to call a lighthouse home.
“I’ve had it since the beginning, like you’re going to let me do this,” laughed Meghan.
The lightkeepers left the lighthouse in the late 1930s, losing their jobs to innovation and electricity. After that, the government took over care of the lighthouses. While some people still work at the lighthouses during the day, there aren’t any people in North Carolina who call them home, other than Meghan and her family.
For decades, Currituck Beach Lighthouse crumbled, until 1980 when a group of locals decided the lighthouse was worth saving.
“You just have a sense of place here that people feel immediately walking on-site,” said Meghan.
They spent years restoring and rebuilding, bringing back the old lighthouse and the job of ‘Lightkeeper.’
“We can do it. We can make it last,” said Meghan.
While she doesn’t have to worry about keeping the oil burning, making sure the 147-year-old building stays standing requires a lot of work in their unceasing battle against weather, water and time.
“I want the lighthouse to be here, and not on the water, and shining for 1500 years, that’s my goal,” said Meghan.
From the thousands of bricks to the one-of-a-kind walkway that surrounds it, after all these years, Meghan still finds a way to see everything in a whole new light.
“I’ve climbed it 3,000 times for sure, it never gets boring because it’s always different. The weather is different, the wind is different, the ocean is different the feeling you have on the top,” said Meghan.
After almost two decades, she still remembers the first time she really looked up. It was just after her second son was born.
“Once they both slept through the night, I walked outside. I was like- how have I missed this?! This whole, you know the stars are your original aids to navigation, how have I missed them? Now I try to be out every night, even just for a little bit,” said Meghan.
Meghan’s kids won’t likely take over her job, that’s not how things work anymore. When she’s done, she doesn’t know if there will ever be another family to live at the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, just like the old lightkeepers used to.
“It’s not necessarily meant to be the story of Meghan and Luis, it’s meant to be the story of the Currituck beach lighthouse and we just bump into it a little bit,” said Meghan.
For her, the lighthouse is a consistent beacon among constant change.
Because no matter what, the light will always be on, even if she is one of the last of the lightkeepers.