My younger sisters would stretch out in the back of the station wagon (seat belts? what seat belts?) and I would take over the middle seat. We would drive down with the car loaded to the gills and pulling a camper behind us. Our ever resourceful mother would head to the public library to get books on tape and would pack a bag full of activity books and other educational slash fun things to keep the wee ladies entertained. Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang was the family favourite and we listened to it countless times as we headed for the coast.
We always camped at Peter's Pond, a campground with, you guessed it, a large pond that we could swim in. Every day we would leave the campground and head out exploring. We spent days on the beach, drove to Boston and visited the aquarium, drove to Salem and visited the horrifying Salem witch museum, ate saltwater taffy and went whale watching.
One summer, we found a beach where people were clam digging and we joined right in, collecting buckets of them. We returned to the campground and my parents prepared a dinner of clams and spaghetti-o's. They had horrified looks on their faces because they had not realized that we needed a licence to dig for clams and we had horrified looks on our faces because they were ruining a perfectly good can of spaghetti-o's.
My birthday often happened during the trip and it was a challenge for my parents to find a cake for my birthday dinner. Creativity was the name of the game.
My birthday bread loaf is still a family joke.
Summers spent by the ocean gave me a love of the sea. The ocean is where I feel at home and at peace. The smells, the waves, the ocean wind - they are in my blood. So much so that, in grade three, I decided that I wanted to be a marine biologist. That dream did not fade through the rest of grade school or high school and I headed to university to make it happen. I did. On paper, I am a marine biologist and I can pull out my degree to prove it. I have dissected sharks and chased whales. I understand ocean currents and think estuaries are fascinating. Give me a tide pool and I'll be engrossed for hours. Give me a snorkel and mask and I won't be home until supper.
My marine biology dream ended the day I walked into my current place of employment. I was looking for a summer job to tide me over while I figured out the next step in my journey. During that summer I discovered that I like working with people and that I'm pretty good at it. I've never left. Most days, I'm quite ok with that.
But the closer I get to the Boston marathon the louder the ocean is calling my name. It has been a long long time since I've tasted the salty air. I'm ready. I'm ready to visit my old aquarium, chase whales, sit by the sea and dream the dreams that a long haired little girl used to dream.