By Ryan Touhey
It’s a late August afternoon. The lifeguards are now off duty, the sun is just about to begin its descent, and I’m slipping my arms through the straps of a chair as I put it on my back. I look around the sand and pick up my other belongings. I turn my back and walk away from the ocean, and I make sure it’s the slowest walk I can take. I know that I’m leaving the shore to go back home and prepare for my trip back to school. I pause at the top of the dunes to soak up the beach for the last time. For me, this is the end of summer. It’s time for the familiarity of the school year that consists of textbooks and essay papers yet again.
The beach has always been one of my favorite places to go to. Each August, my family and I travel down to Long Beach Island, N.J. to enjoy the last few weeks of summer vacation before we all go back to school and work. It’s our last hurrah together and it has never gotten old for me. A part of me lives in Long Beach Island and my experiences there have influenced my personality. The beach is where I’ve treasured most of my summer memories. To me, the summer is all about freedom. When I’m on the beach, I experience freedom to the fullest.
Although I am not totally isolated in terms of people around me on the beach, I feel isolated inside of my head dreading my inevitable return to college. The sound of the ocean water and the feeling of the sun’s heat give me moments of clarity. When I stare out into the ocean, I am able to envision anything that I set my mind to. I can draw any picture I want on the surface of the water with my imagination.
The sight of the ocean itself gives me a rush of calmness, and the beach as a whole gives me the sense of adventure. This combination is why I believe that the beach is the quintessential representation of summer. It’s the one place where I feel no stress whatsoever because everyone else is in their own zone of relaxation and enjoyment. Nobody wants to be bothered. Although summer is the longest season, it truly goes by fast.
I also realize how fast college goes. Freshman and sophomore year have come and gone in the blink of an eye. It’s crazy that I’m in my junior year already, though I am lucky that I still have two more years and I can enjoy summer vacation.
Although I work in the summer, it’s fun for the most part and I get to do many activities as well. But as I get older, the days of future summers seem uncertain. As I graduate from Sacred Heart and decide on a career in the coming years, it might be difficult to truly enjoy summer to the fullest. With that said, I am really going to enjoy being in college these next two years. But after I leave the beach for the last time before I begin my senior year, I don’t know if I’ll be able to have the “vacation” part of summer anymore. I want to go into sports journalism after I graduate from college, and I know that it will be a big commitment in terms of the workload. But I still hope that I can find some summer time here and there.
These reasons are why it’s so hard for me to bid farewell to the shore until next year. It’s also why I believe summer ends once I leave the beach for the last time. I don’t feel the sense of freedom that the beach provides in any other place. I am not able to clear my mind and think effortlessly. For me, the beach is a source of escapism from the world’s problems. The sights and sounds it makes put me in a good state of mind. I can enjoy the “natural” world for once. The sand, the ocean and even the seagulls all bring a smile to me.