Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Leaving My Mark: Names In the Sand

Is there something that you do no matter where you travel? Do you strike the same pose at every famous landmark you visit? Or do you collect something from each location--a shell, a leaf, a matchbook cover?

Well, for me, when my destination happens to be a beach, there is one thing I must do: write my name in the sand (and of course take a photo of it!) and then watch as the ocean washes it away, carrying my name into the sea. 

I'm not sure why I do it, call it an urge that for a moment to claim a small part of the beach before the ocean exercises its ultimate dominance and washes it away.  The first time I did this was on the western coast of Ireland on a study abroad trip. "This is the closest you'll be gettin' to America for awhile!" our good-natured tour guide teased us. This was the first beach I had ever visited and I was desperately wishing for some way to capture this moment. And so, I found a rock and wrote my name in the amber-colored sand. I had just managed to snap a picture of it before the sea washed it away, soaking my shoes. 

The next time I was on a beach was in Galveston, Texas, visiting my then-boyfriend. There was something so invigorating about being back by the sea again, and being with someone I loved only made it better. To mark the occasion, I grabbed a stick and wrote our names and the year (2013) in the thickly packed muddy-brown sand. It was my (far more nature-friendly way) of carving our initials into a tree. It wasn't long before the waters of the Gulf came in and carried our, but we were still there, watching the sun sink over the horizon.

Later that year I was in Monterey, California and found myself on the same beaches that John Steinbeck made famous in his book "Cannery Row." So of course, one more time I carefully etched my initials and the year into that powdery yellow sand.  

It wouldn't take long for the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean to make their way across my name and gently erase it, carrying my name and all those hopes I had into the water, where I hoped they'd live forever. 

Later, I would write about that time on the beach, describing it this way: "I felt so free at that moment, as if the real adult world was not around the corner. It was as if all the world’s happiness was mine to spend, and I could spend it right here." And that is truly how I felt--happy. 

I can't wait to visit more beaches, write my name in them all, and share them all with you. So, is there anything you do every time you travel? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @calleysofalley !

Thanks for reading everyone! Cheers!!!

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