I stand on the edge, listening to the awesome roar of wind and waves, and feeling the water slide up and down my legs, up and down. I note the shifting sands underfoot, and think to myself that I am slowly being sucked down into a deeper and deeper hole. And I’m amazed at the idea that, some 3,000 miles away, on the other side of this great body of water stands someone who is probably doing the same.
Few things are to me like going to the beach, an activity I sadly haven’t engaged in for at least ten years. The mighty ocean is the closest most of us will ever come to deep Space, and from what I’ve learned, is actually less known about than said overhead environment.
I can still recall my first experience with the ocean and beach. It is probably more primarily stitched into my memory, because not two weeks later Hurricane Hugo slammed into those shores and took out many of the structures we had just enjoyed. Hard to believe that was 25 years ago, but it was. Man am I getting old.
I think that Myrtle Beach, South Carolina hadn’t yet become as crowded as it is nowadays. My family, always interesting navigators and especially in the era before widespread GPS was available, turned a 4-hour trip from Charlotte into an eight-hour trip. I think the more surprising thing there was that we pressed on until 1:15 AM, finally arriving at the Driftwood Motel and more or less dropping straight into bed./p>
That next day, I was taken aback by the smell of salty air and water that almost seemed alive somehow. I was also, maybe irrationally? I don’t know, afraid of being stung by jellyfish. I wasn’t brave enough to go any farther than waste-deep, that’s for sure. Once we stepped clear of the water, I think we only actually visited it one time, it evaporated pretty quickly, leaving me covered in crystals.
Then a fierce rainstorm blew in. The hallway of our motel had a balcony/viewing area, and my sisters looked out and said the tempest caused the ocean to look even more beautiful.
“I can see England in the distance”, one of them erroneously said. I thought maybe she could.
We went to Myrtle once again in the mid 90s, for a high-priced family reunion in which we spent a fair amount of time in a cold banquet room eating rubbery vegetables. I think most of us were wishing we’d just booked a cookout on the sand. We did stay in a nicer hotel though, Tropical Seas, which had a cool indoor/outdoor pool that would allow you to swim between them.
I visited two other times, both with the Charlotte Beep baseball team. One was to the incredibly nice Ocean Isle Beach in 1999. This trip was punctuated by the woman who was to drive my cousin and me down from Charlotte having crazy issues getting us into the rental car. For reasons known only to her, she thought the car had only two doors when it actually had four. She thus leaned the front seat all the way back and had us clammer over it, squeezing in there like crazy people. I showed her the back door when we got to a gas station and needed to relieve ourselves. I didn’t have time to wait for that fun again!
And my final trip was with that same team to Charleston, SC, where that year’s beep ball tournament was being held. My most memorable part of that experience was sitting on a huge deck, with sand blowing into my delicious shrimp meal and making things a bit gritty.
A trip with my high school out onto the Atlantic just off of the North Carolina coast showed me that I might have difficulties riding the waves on a boat, as I got kind of seasick. I enjoyed my only ride on the Pacific, though, a cruise through the relatively calm Marina del Rey, just off the coast of Los Angeles. I would like to stand on a beach of that ocean someday, as I hear it’s even more ferocious.
And that’s a little about one of my favorite experiences. I love the ocean and would consider living by it, if doing so wasn’t so frought with danger. I don’t know, maybe there’s some location where I could do so relatively safely.
Have you visited an ocean? What was it like? Ever been swimming in one?