When I think back to the time when I was at my happiest and the most free (besides college, because that’s another post for another day..,), I think of my childhood growing up at the beach. My grandparents inherited a deep sea fishing company from my Great Grandmother and ran that for many years. Which means some of my earliest memories are that of a diesel engine starting up at 7am, waves lapping softly at the shore, sheer curtains billowing in the ocean breeze, and a sandy beach trail that led from their home on a little peninsula, to the pier, where the business was. This path, worn between beach grass and sand dunes, was traveled multiple times a day by my hardworking grandparents. If I close my eyes I can feel the pebbles beneath my bare feet, smell the scent of marshy grass and wet sand, and see the brilliant blue of a summer sky in July in New Hampshire. We also had a modest strip of beach that was just for the four or five house that sat on this strip of private road made entirely of crushed beach shells, our own private oasis. I took me a along time to figure out that not a lot of people had the luxury of a shingled beach house ten steps from the sand, with beach roses rioting outside.
My grandparents worked at the pier seven days a week, all Spring and Summer long, for my entire childhood until they retired. There was an office cottage at the top of the street to steer traffic to the business, and a pier and tackle shop down the hill, right by the water. I sat with my Grandma in this office at the top of the hill a lot. It had a back room that I could play “office in, with a space heater that kept the early Spring chill out. This office has stood there forever. I have a picture of my mother at 14, standing in the same place I used to stand, looking very similar to me in my bathroom right now. It makes me smile every time I see it.
Once I tuned 14, I was entrusted to work this office by myself, flagging down cars with brochures and sending them down to the pier to buy tickets. I was paid in cash and my grandmother saved half of it for me for college, presenting me with a semester’s worth of money the summer before I went to college. She was a smart cookie.
Before long I worked at the pier, selling fishing and whale watching tickets, bait, and tackle. It was in a room at the base of the pier, with a long counter that a local parasailing and jet ski company operated off of the same pier, too. And for a short time, we ran a restaurant in the same building, which is awesome if you love free food;) I was always surrounded by family and people. The same group of guys worked the boats, and they were my friends. (They were cute, too. Ha!) Before long I worked my morning shift at our Deep Sea Fishing office, then changed my shirt and slid down the counter so I could work the Parasailing desk in the afternoons. I got to Parasail and jet ski for free on slow days, have fun summer romances with the cute guys that worked there, and work with people I loved. It was a time that I was living in one of my most favorite places on earth, a happy place for me that still makes me homesick.
Life is so good for me, now, with my kids and husband. Yet, I look at that time, at the memories I have from the beach and the pier, and I wish sometimes that it could all come back again. Because it was pure magic.