Ever since I can remember, the ocean has been a big part of my life, and I have always been drawn to the beach. My earliest memories are playing in the sand, collecting seashells, and getting knocked over by waves as they splash around me. I grew up watching dolphins, visiting sea turtle rescues, and climbing through caves in rocky shores. I went snorkeling and catch-and-release netting. I saw sharks too close for comfort and reached out to touch sea urchins. One time, my stepmom brought home a wild seahorse that lived for at least five years in our aquarium (I think this might have been illegal.) I wouldn’t trade the experiences of my childhood for anything in the world.
My grandparents lived near the water, and my best memories with them all involve the ocean. My grandpa would take us to see pirate shipwrecks and play in the soft sand beaches in Melbourne (Florida), one of my favorite towns in the world. My granny would always take us to Coral Cove to see the water explode up through the rocky caverns and to play in the tide pools. We would pick sea grapes- a small, sweet green fruit- and I would run around the mangrove trees, my siblings and I pretending to be sea otters one day and explorers the next. My grandparents grew up in the Caribbean, and the ocean was central to their lives, which inspired the love I have for it in mine.
As an adult, it is important for me to live close to the ocean. I may not be able to go as often as I would like, but if it was taken away from me I would feel closed in, trapped, and anxious. There is nothing in life that calms me down more or brings me back to myself as much as an early morning walk along the water. The smell, the breeze, and the feeling of sand at my feet bring me an immense feeling of peace. I love the ocean at dawn, when there is a misty fog over everything and an eerie silence, only the sound of the waves to be heard.
Last week, I walked along the shore in La Jolla. I picked seashells and felt the cold water lapping at my feet. I listened, and into the roaring sound of the waves, I whispered “I miss you.” I knew my grandparents were listening, too.