Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
I’m as far into the ocean water as I ever go. A big wave is closing in. It’s about to break. I’m not sure it will hold off long enough for me to float over it. Here it comes — wham! Then I’m slowly rolling and turning back and forth gently under the water. It is so peaceful. I want to stay here forever. Suddenly a strong hand reaches down, grabs my arm and yanks me up to the surface. Leave me alone, I think. I like it here! But it keeps pulling. I’m out of the water.
As I gain full consciousness I realized my brother Ed has saved my life! I am only eight. Yes, we were out too far. We never told our parents what happened but decided to stay near them the rest of that afternoon.
Growing up, our family’s week-long vacation at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, was a big event for me. It was a tedious four-and-a-half-hour car ride from home to our destination. But patience brought reward. As we rounded the final curve, our eyes feasted on a long strip of glorious blue coast filled with energetic waves and edged with stately rocks. My nostrils took in the wonderful smell. Pure delight filled me.
Over the years we graduated from cottages to staying at a boarding house. The bathroom was down the hall, but my Mom no longer had to cook since the dining room served two meals a day.
Most days we took long walks along the edge of the water in the morning. I’d look for the occasional shell worth bringing home. Afternoons were spent on the beach. The water was very cold, so I worked my way into it slowly and stayed in only 10 or 15 minutes at a time. In the evening we walked again, visited gift shops, ate frozen custard and listened to outdoor concerts. Our favorite destination was the penny arcade where we spent hours playing on the machines.
Every year, we set one day aside for a coastline drive from Hampton to York Beach, Maine. The beautiful, weathered mansions and rugged coast never failed to be exciting. Our first destination was The Nubble. A historic lighthouse, rocks I could explore, and a delightful gift shop awaited. Lunch at the Goldengate restaurant and a visit to the church where my Dad received first communion completed our trip.
Vacations on the ocean bring back wonderful memories and perhaps a lesson yet to learn. I’ve never forgotten how I felt when I was drowning — no fear or struggle. It was utopia! Maybe it was a sneak preview of what lies ahead someday! (If I behave).