I grew up on Hatteras Island, NC. I was going to school in Durham, NC when I met my husband and we ended up moving to Atlanta for his job. I really, really hate living in Atlanta. There’s nothing wrong with Atlanta per se, and I realize many people love living there, but it does not feel like home to me and I fear it never will. I’ve been trying to move since the day we got here, but the housing market has conspired against me and made it impossible to sell our house at a profit.
It pains me that my kids are growing up away from the ocean. I remember swimming in the ocean as a kid- salt drying on my skin after the water evaporated, learning to dive under the waves and paddle a surfboard. I remember fishing off the dock and setting minnow traps in the creek behind my house. We went clamming in the sound, digging our toes into the muck until we felt the hard shell. We saw the sun set every night and we knew which way the wind was blowing. We knew which end of the island would have good surf based on the direction of the wind. We also knew that nature is worthy of respect because we watched tides rise and wind blow and prayed that our house would stay standing. We got pounded by shore break and carried off by rip currents, and we knew that the power of the ocean was not to be underestimated.
In contrast, my kids are surrounded by shopping malls and mini marts. The only reason they know anything about nature is because their mom is a little psycho about making sure they learn. I am witnessing a culture of parents who ensure that sun hats and sunscreen are liberally applied, water wings are worn, and everyone is always properly supervised. By current standards, I had a dangerous and reckless upbringing. I can’t remember ever wearing a sun hat or water wings. My parents made sure I knew how to swim so that if I got in the water I wouldn’t die. We were on an island, so swimming was a necessary skill and false confidence through water wings was frowned upon.
All of this to say that I wish my kids could experience a childhood more like mine. I’m desperate to move back near the ocean, but for now we are lucky to have many beautiful hiking trails, waterfalls, campgrounds and lakes within easy driving distance. I do my best to make sure that my kids experience the natural wonders of their home state. Maybe someday we’ll move back to the beach, but for now I take my kids exploring in the woods and swimming in the lake, sans water wings of course.