As a little girl growing up at the Jersey Shore, I never really understood the treasure I had access to. I didn’t realize then that there are people that have never touched an ocean, felt the softness of real sand on their feet, sat and listened to the rhythmic crashing of waves, or sniffed a salty ocean breeze. I grew up taking for granted the joy of hunting for that special shell, seeing it in the water at low tide, and trying to catch it before it was washed out to sea again. How many times did I find just the perfect clam shell to take home and paint for my mom? Yes, living here at the Jersey Shore I understood the pure bliss of standing at the water’s edge, while the foamy waves washed over my feet, eventually burying them in the wet sand; the joy of getting in the water and jumping over waves, or riding one back to the shore. I learned how to battle it out with a seagull who wanted to steal my french fries as soon as I looked away. I was a beach girl, and I thought, wasn’t everyone?
Now that I have moved my children 1,200 miles from the ocean, I understand how unique my experiences were. What an awesome thing to grow up knowing the ocean. Every time we come back here, it feels like the ocean calls to me. And all I can do is think about getting there, to touch the sand, to hunt for shells, to feel the breeze. We have been to the ocean all three nights that we have been here, and each time I leave wondering if I will get one more chance to go back before we drive back to our land-locked Minnesota.
Last night, it was low tide, and my ocean had left me amazing treasures all along the beach. The kids and the grown-ups spent an hour just searching, collecting, enjoying. I laid on my stomach on the beach, where the waves had deposited a wealth of tiny shells and stones, and I searched for sea glass. It is such a treasure to find even a tiny piece. Most are in shades of brown or green, likely from beer bottles that have made their way to the sea and been broken up by the ocean’s movement. On occasion, you can even find a piece of blue glass, a real prize find, and I found one last night! As I laid there searching, observing each tiny shell and pebble, I felt completely and utterly content, like I could lay there for the rest of my life and be very happy.
I do love that the ocean seems to be in my children’s veins too. They love being there as much as Chris and I do. They even go in the water when it is super-cold like it is this week. They just roll up their pants and get their toes right in. They play until their feet get numb from cold, and spend the rest of their time searching for treasures. Yes, somehow we have passed on our love for the beach to our children, despite the distance between them and the water.
Leaving my ocean has been such a big loss, perhaps the toughest part of the move, besides the people we left behind. I wish all of you who grew up so far from the beach could feel what it is like to know and love this beautiful body of water, to have it in your veins. It is such a big part of who I have become and something I wish for my friends in far away places to know. I know it is something that pictures just can’t capture, but I hope through the joy in our faces you can experience it in some small way.