“I’d like you to raise your hand if you have ever seen the ocean,” my sixth grade teacher asked the class one day during a lesson. In an instant I was surrounded by hands waving in the air above my head. Whispers came from peers seated near me; ‘have you really never seen the ocean?’ I looked around at my class of roughly thirty kids and, seeing I was the only one without a hand in the air, I kept my hands folded across my lap and nodded.
Four years later, in grade ten, I still had only seen the wonder of the ocean portrayed through movies and pictures. I started that school year as I did any other; filling out the ‘get to know you’ surveys teachers gave out and always putting ‘the ocean’ as the place I most wanted to visit. The year came to be May and I expected the summer to be like any other; sitting at home and not traveling anywhere when my dad got the call that would forever change the words ‘the ocean’ for me.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
A good friend of my dad’s was unable to use his timeshare in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina during his allotted week and offered it to my family free of charge! After the once in a life time opportunity was seized, the rest of the school year flew by with exams and excited packing. A week into June, my family and I set out to explore the unknown.
A twelve hour drive brought us to Hilton Head Island. Since Indiana and Kentucky were as far out of Ohio as I had ever gone, the south seemed a whole different world. The palm trees grew spontaneously out of the ground near the road and Spanish moss grew wild in the tree tops.
At the Shipyard plantation I stepped into the Port O’ Call unit 906 and took in the place I would be calling home for a week. It didn’t seem like home at all to me with the incredibly fancy two bedrooms, the big bathroom, the medium kitchen, and the family room with a flat screen television! My two younger brothers and I brought suitcases from the car and took full advantage of having an elevator to use. Finally, my parents said that we could walk to see the ocean before dinner.
Down the block, across the street, down a small side street with large houses, and into a sandy path shaded by the large leaves of palm trees. I walked up the wooden steps at the end of the path and looked out toward the ocean for the first time. The water went out toward the gray sky and they seemed to meet somewhere far beyond where the eye could see. The choppy waves with their white foam came and went, leaving behind a strip of water on the white sand.
My family and I descended the steps to the beach as a blob and then my brothers and I ran to the water. I rolled up my jeans and slipped out of my flip flops. Standing in the soft sand and feeling the salty water wash over my feet and ankles felt better than lounging in fuzzy slippers. Looking out over the water I realized that the world was huge and wondrous. My mom snapped a picture at the moment that feeling showed on my face.
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