Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: "Ocean: A Personal Memory"

This week’s Sunday Scribbling assignment is to write something about “Oceans.” This is my first Sunday Scribbling attempt; the assignment was too appealing to let it past as the ocean has played a major role in my life. I took the photo to the right at Cape Lookout in December 2005.

I’d been sleeping and woke up to the rumble of the old Northeast Cape Fear River Bridge. We were coming into Wilmington for my first time. I could taste salt in the air. Looking back, it seems a bit strange to have detected salt there, ten miles from the ocean. Maybe it was all in my mind. From the day I’d learned we were moving near the ocean, my psyche had been consumed with visions of jellyfish and sharks and stingrays and hurricanes. I wasn’t particularly happy. I was nine years old and sitting in the back seat with my brother and sister and all my friends were all 200 miles away. It was August 1966.

We spent that night in a motel but it’s all a fog. I’m sure my mother wiped the bathroom down with Lysol before she allowed us to use it. I remember that it was too late to swim in the pool and we were told we had to be at our new house first thing in the morning in order to meet the moving van. There’d be no time for swimming then either.

For the past several weeks we kids had stayed with our grandparents. My brother and I shared a bedroom with my uncle L, a teenager. I think he was going into the tenth grade. For what seemed to be hours on end, he played and replayed the Rolling Stone’s “Satisfaction,” off a 45 record with scratches. Each time, he’d sing loud and off key as he strummed his make-believe guitar, otherwise known as my grandmother’s broom. During this of Rock and Roll immersion (its amazing my brother and I grew up to like rock music) my parents brought a house near Wilmington and packed up our stuff in Petersburg. I was a little incensed at the time for being cut out of the action, but having had the experience of moving back and forth across the country as an adult, I think maybe I should send my parents a thank you note for sparing us the details.

I don’t remember much about the next morning. Where did we eat breakfast? Did we have to wait for the moving van? All I remember was that we were moving into what was suppose to be a neighborhood, which contained very few houses. In another year, that would change. But at this time we were surrounded with woods and swamps, but when things were quiet and the conditions right, you could hear the surf breaking in the distance. My other memory is that there were plenty of boxes and lots of unpacking to do. Dad said if we got everything done, we could go to the beach late that the afternoon. I wasn’t too excited since I was sure I’d be eaten by a shark or stung by a jellyfish or a stingray. I felt it was best to put off such experiences, but that wasn’t to be the case. That afternoon, around five, we headed out to the beach. I decided to take the plunge. I was either going to get whatever disaster that awaited me over with, or the water was going to wake up from my bad dream so that I’d find myself in our house in Petersburg with Bubba and Denise yelling for me to come play. So I ran right into the surf. I got wet, my eyes burned from the salt, but nothing bad happened. A few hours later when we returned home, my skinned itched from the salt, but otherwise I was unscathed.

Over time, the fear of the sea waned and I began to cherish living so close to the ocean. Although I no longer tasted the salt in the air, when conditions were right, I could hear the roll of the surf from our yard. When I go back, one of the first things I do is to head out to the beach for a walk. I don’t care if its day or night, rain or shine, summer or winter, there’s something special about being on the sand and listening to the sound of the surf. And now that I’m once again a visitor, I again taste the salt when I arrive home.

For more of Sage's memories, click here.


  1. Those are lovely memories, I can almost taste them. I think you must have been lucky to have lived so close to the beach.

    I particularly loved that your dad used the beach as an incentive when actually, if you think you're about to be eaten by a shark, it's more of a punishment!

  2. "....there’s something special about being on the sand and listening to the sound of the surf."

    Truer words were never spoken, Sage, and it is one of my favorite things to do too.

  3. I can almost taste the salt in the ear and hear the seagulls' cries!

    Just found out about the Sunday Scribblings a little earlier today - what a great idea! I'm going to have to try that next week...

  4. I, too, grew up with salt in my nostrils on the coast of Georgia. I don't feel like I've been back until I walk on the beach and talk to the waves. Brought good memories back.

  5. I've always thought that if I lived where I could see an ocean everyday, I would take it for granted. Living in the heartland, I take every minute I spend on the beach is precious.

  6. ed is right - I live near the ocean and some times take it for granted. But I still cherish when I can lie in bed and listen to the surf . . .

  7. Thanks for the visual.

    Martin and I were talking yesterday of when would be a good time to sneak down to Myrtle and play in the sun and waves for a few days. Listening to the outdoor pool bands and jumping waves. Life is good at the beach. But I know the sight of the Pavillion gone will be depressing. Money changes things.

  8. I'm glad you all enjoyed the piece--it probably needs some more refinement, but it was fun to write

    Jay, thanks for stopping by again.

    Kenju, it's neat to think that you and Deanna have been to those same beaches that I've written about

    Hanulf, thanks, I may try to do Sunday Scribblings again, they post the "assignment on Saturday which gives more time, but I didn't get around to it till Sunday evening

    Pat, didn't know you grew up on Georgia's coast!

    Ed, yes, it's that way with me now

    Diane, yes, lying in bed listening to the waves is a wonderful thing to experience

    Deanna, I'd forgotten about he Pavillion being gone at MB, but I never spent much time there--I should have included in my descriptions something about the Llumia at Wrightsville Beach--I wrote a poem about it a couple years ago and posted it in my blog

  9. I am now longing for the Jersey shore.


    Just a few more months to go...

  10. Thanks for sharing these memories! I always hated moving and had a hard time adjusting, so I can totally understand the idea that disaster was looming because of the move. Wish one of our moves had been that close to the beach! It sounds wonderful!

  11. Oh how I miss living near the ocean and the beach! The first year and a half of our married life was surrounded by water and the beauty of Marin County and Point Reyes National Seashore. How I long to be there again.

  12. I feel it reads just fine. No refinements are needed. Doing that would take away some of emotions from it. I like the nostalgice way of the post.

    I was born near the ocean and we moved when I was 3 years old. Since then I have beeen to a lot of places which are far and away from the sea. Still the sea calls out. Going back there sure feels like home. I do manage that once a year.

  13. Ah, oceans are a place to dream and to leave the world behind you. And if you get there early enough in the morning, it's just you and the sea, the sounds of the waves and the callings of the birds. So peaceful - a place to forget everything except the moment.