Author: Hoda El-Haj
The sun's rays reflected off the water's surface giving the ocean a bright shimmer of gold. I peered out the car window at the blur of sea as we drove passed it. Gliding boats of all shapes and sizes owned the sea. A prickling sensation of anticipation crept up my spine. My legs ached, begging for movement after the ninety minute drive from Houston, Texas. It was these trips to Galveston Island that made the soreness in my legs worthwhile. Every trip, I kept myself occupied in the car until the ocean scenery greeted me. At that time I knew the aching would be replaced with memory after memory.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Although plagued by numerous hurricanes and not known for the clearest of waters, Galveston Island is enriched with numerous attractions, museums, and historic buildings. However, our objective was hitting the beach. The moment my dad positioned the car into park on the hilly sand laden with moss, my brothers raced to the ocean as if it might be an illusion that could disappear in an instant. Skimming the shoreline, seagulls soared, crabs scurried, and people dotted the coast. The aroma of the salty humid air crawled up my nostrils. Strongly, the waves roared as they pounded forward, seizing particles of sand only to leave behind a swirl of foam after hissing back into the depths. The rhythmic pulse of the waves continued, competing with the snarling wind. Wispy clouds mirrored the swirls of the ocean foam, and fish jumped glimmering in the sky mockingly. Galveston opened up its shores to us.
My family and I spend hours swimming and fishing in the water, and today was no exception. Beneath the sea, the chill sand oozed between my toes. As I proceeded through the vast gulf, I stepped on many items hidden in the smooth sand, so I disappeared underwater and emerged only to find a broken shell or litter. Giving up, I swam into the ocean's depths and surfaced to find a shadowy figure approaching me. I squinted my eyes for a clearer view. The figure appeared to be my father embracing an illuminating object. Striped with a pattern of purple and black lines, spiraled with a pointy top, lacking missing fragments, the ideal seashell. I could feel the I'm-in-shock awe on my face as my father handed the shell to me. "It's for you," he exclaimed. My wet hands rubbed its rigid exterior, and I memorized its simple perfection.
After our tongues were parched from the seawater and our arms sore from swimming, we decided to relax on the shore. My father dug out the enormous jellybean-shaped watermelon he had buried in the cool sand earlier so that we can moisten our throats. As I bit into the ripe seedless watermelon slice, I peered around the shore and spotted the smiles among families barbecuing, children creating a foundation for a soon-to-be sandcastle, and my own family as they enjoyed the refreshing watermelon. Galveston Island did not contain fancy expensive beaches nor was it the vacation of my dreams; however, the joy it created on my family's faces were irreplaceable.
Going home that day, I held the shell with a tight grip. The lights from nearby Texas City sparkled in the dark sky as we crossed the bridge back to the mainland. The soreness in my legs would return again, but this time I was satisfied. As I cuddled the shell close to my ear, the sea's echo was overshadowed by the sound of my family's laughter. It was one thing the ocean's waves could not grab hold of.