As a child, my world was filled with uncertainties. I worried a lot–about not having enough money, about where we would live next, and being the new kid at school again. I wondered what would become of us if something ever happened to my mom, and I was afraid for our safety. For most of my childhood, we lived in the projects and fear was like a tangible presence, always hovering.
The one constant was a trip to the beach. It was free, accessible and far away from the city. I remember going to bed the night before a beach trip in my bathing suit, barely able to sleep with the anticipation of waking up early the next morning to go. Once there, I drank in the familiar smell of the sea, the warm breeze and the feel of the warm, grainy sand between my toes. The waves crashing softly onto the shore were like old friends stopping in to greet me. Here, in this beautiful, natural place I felt no fear; only happiness, freedom, and peace.
This summer, I turned fifty; and while many approach this milestone with trepidation, I am perfectly content to live in the moment. Aging, like the inevitable arrival of the tide, will visit us all. When I look in the mirror, I do not despise my reflection. The streaks of white hair, like foam on top of waves, are evidence of wisdom gained. The wrinkles near my eyes, reminders of happy times and laughter with loved ones. My experiences–large and small, pleasant and awful, are like seashells on the sand. Each moment, unique with its own hues and shades of color, tells the story of my life.
Since my happiest memories were made on the beach, I thought it fitting to commemorate my 50th birthday with a visit to fifty beaches. A bit of sand from each serves as a souvenir of my “shore tour.” To date, I have visited 16 beaches on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coasts. Every beach has a story, treasures to be uncovered and new memories to be made. Here’s to the journey.