Mar 30

Seashells

My family had an old tradition of visiting Hampton Beach in New Hampshire at the peak of summer with another family that I grew up with. As a child, this was a day I looked forward to; the long walks on the Boardwalk, the small beaded chokers that I was for some reason obsessed with, the half-built sandcastles, and perhaps the most exciting of all, the seashells we would spend hours wandering the shoreline looking for. It was doing this last activity that was what got me in trouble. When I was around four years old, I was searching for the little colorful husks, completely immersed with my eyes glued to the sand. It was only when I found one and turned to show it to Mom that I realized that I was alone. Alone, as in surrounded by hundreds of strangers and no one I knew in sight. Now, if you have ever been lost as a child, you will agree with me when I say that this is one of the most frightening things that could ever happen to you. On the verge of tears, I was wandering around and looking for a familiar face, when I hear a voice say,
“Are you lost, honey?” I turned to see a middle-aged woman in a red one-piece and sunglasses peering down at me.
“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” I reply quietly. Yes, even when I was four, I knew that overused yet so useless line that adults always tell their children.
“Don’t worry, I’ll just help you find your mommy. What does she look like?”
Finding at least a little solace in this mother-like woman, I explain my situation and my mother to her. In no time at all, we found her and I was in my mother’s arms. I was too young to know to say thank you, but I remember my mother saying it at least a dozen times to the woman. I am still grateful to that stranger today, and wish I could thank her when my four-year-old self didn’t feel the need to.