"We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back to whence we came.” John F. Kennedy
"The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul." Robert Wyland
"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever." Jacques Cousteau
My love affair with the sea began almost 50 years ago, when my parents packed up the car and made the trek to Ocean City, Maryland with me and my sisters. As soon as I stepped onto the sand, heard the crash of the waves, and tasted the salt on my lips, I knew that I had found a home.
Our family vacationed each year at Ocean City until I went to college. My mother, who never really cared for the beach, would try in vain to change our travel destination, but the whining of three teenage girls would always win out in the end. As soon as we made it to our motel, my sisters and I would race to get into our bathing suits and out the door with rafts in tow. We spent hours jumping the waves and building sand castles, and as we got older, flirting with boys on the boardwalk.
After turning 18, many of my trips to the beach were with friends, visiting beaches in Maryland and New Jersey. Whether it was for a week or a long weekend, time with the ever-changing, never-changing ocean provided a welcome way to relax and recharge.
In my early 20s, I met the other love of my life, my husband, David. His first experience of the ocean was the warm, turquoise waters of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, our honeymoon destination. Snorkeling and experiencing the amazing beauty of aquatic life had him falling in love with the sea, too.
During the early years of our marriage – before children – we traveled to many of the beautiful white sand beaches in the Caribbean; Cancun, the Bahamas, St. Lucia, Barbados, and St. Martin were some of the destinations we explored. It made me realize that, like people, each beach has its own unique personality, an observation that was reinforced as we traveled the eastern seaboard with our children.
One summer, we went to Cape Cod for a wedding. The beach there was rocky, with water so cold you could barely dip in a toe, even on a scorching day in July. For years we traveled with friends to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where the waves and currents brought great conditions for body surfing, along with huge seashells. One year we went to Topsail Island, NC, where the kids (and adults!) had a great time looking for shark’s teeth on the beach. Another time we stayed at Ocean Isle Beach, NC, where we enjoyed traversing the area on golf carts.
As the children got older, we headed a little farther south, finding some of our favorite beaches in South Carolina. For us, traveling with kids ranging in age from toddler to late teens, the wide, white sand beaches of Hilton Head had lots of room to spread out and play or ride bikes without being on top of each other. The water was warm, and there was something to do for everyone, from playing in a tidal pool, to paddle boarding on the ocean.
Our children are grown and out of the house, but David and I still try to travel to Hilton Head at least once a year. The timeless sound of waves crashing on the beach soothes the soul and helps me regain perspective on my life. Standing by the ocean makes me feel small and reminds me that the One who created something so majestic and wonderful has this crazy world securely in His hands!
Terry Kish is a freelance writer in the Pittsburgh area. She has been an integral part of the writing team for This Awful-Awesome Life since September 2017.