I grew up by the beach. Although I didn't go as much as you'd expect, I loved being on the sand dunes. Jumping off them, rolling down them, sitting on them. I loved the sand, and I loved watching the water. There was a particular cluster of sand dunes that I loved very much, as they offered the perfect height for jumping off, were steep enough to roll down, and had a lovely ditch in the middle for sitting in. One night, I was at the beach with my family to watch the sunset when I discovered that my favorite cluster of sand dunes had disappeared. As a third grader, I knew that of course nature changes things and wind will blow dunes in different directions, but as a nine year old whose parents were separating, this was the final straw on my little camel's back.
I remember feeling like crying, screaming, and throwing sand around all at the same time. I don't remember what I ended up doing, but I do remember my mom taking me in her arms and talking to me about change. The first picture below was taken at that moment, and even though there are many pictures of us, this will always be one of my favorites. I remember not wanting things to change, and as silly as it may seem, this loss of those particular sand dunes symbolized to me that I was growing up. I realized (although I already knew it) that nothing was going to be the same forever, and certainly nothing was going to be the same as it had been when I five, six, seven years old. As I've gotten older, I've realized that it's a good thing life isn't the same as it was from 2014 downward, but as a nine year old I didn't yet have the gift of hindsight.
That day on the beach is the first time I remember not wanting to grow up. Today, September 16th, is my first day of college. My first day of classes is next Monday, but today is the first day of orientation. When I wake up, I'll drive with my mom to the university and unpack all my stuff in a room that I'll be sharing with Annaliese for the next school year. I'll experience all the news things one experiences during orientation week and then I'll have four years of new stuff. This is not the second time I've not wanted to grow up, it's probably the fourth (16th birthday and 18th birthday were the second and third), but this feeling now is just as strong as it was when I was nine.
It's been almost a decade since my mom and I sat on the dunes and she told me that change is good and growing up isn't a bad thing, and I would be very surprised if she didn't tell me the same thing on the drive to Washington. That day on the beach, I couldn't think of anything worse than having to grow up. But so many wonderful things happened in the past nine years that it almost seems silly how scared I was. That's what I'm reminding myself as I prepare to leave Sacramento. Right now I may be thinking that growing up seems awful, but there must be plenty of good things waiting on the horizon. There always have been.