I have known nothing but the beach my entire life, and it has become a massive part of who I am. From long walks down sandy shores to longer days spent in the water, my memories are filled with the beaches of Cape May. Their beauty and power will endlessly attract locals and tourists alike, as its appeal is timeless. Generation after generation has come and gone, often returning more than once, but I find that even when you leave the beach, the beach never really leaves you. Plus there’s always this little souvenir called sea glass that can keep the salty air fresh in your mind.
Sea glass is pieces of broken bottles that have been tossed around in the ocean for weeks and months at a time. After brushing up against sand and rocks and who knows what else, the glass edges are smoothed and loose the clear complexion to become foggy instead.
Over the years I’ve collected enough to keep multiple jars of it my room, with colors from green, brown, and clear to even blue and purple. Green, brown, and clear are the easiest to find because those are common colors for bottles, but the blue and purple are the ones I take the most pride in finding. As my eyes scan the beach, they immediately jump to brighter colors in hopes of a good find. Every once in a while, if I manage to get lucky, a blue one will work its way in to my greedy palms and ever growing collections.
If you’re lucky, you might find a piece here and there from the Cove to Poverty, but that’s definitely not the best place to look. The treasure chest of sea glass is Sunset Beach, which many know for its stellar sunsets and sunken ship that pokes out of the water. Low tide is prime time to look for sea glass because the water is all the way out, leaving more sand, sea glass, and shells that have been washed up. While Sunset Beach fills with so many people that the parking lot over flows and cars line the street, the beach to the left, Alexander’s, and my personal favorite, offers a view just as gorgeous and is less picked over for sea glass.
But collecting sea glass has never been merely a matter of filling a jar to me. It’s so much more than that. When I walk down the beach, round pebbles massaging my feet and slipping between my toes, the lull of the waves lapping on to the sand eases my mind and opens my thoughts. The symphony of sounds that surrounds me at the beach allows my mind to wander freely and fearlessly.
While not everyone would agree that teenagers exactly have it hard, we have enough on our plates that it can be overwhelming at times. We have to figure out what we want to do for the next forty years at the young age of eighteen and then pick a college or career from there, and, quite frankly, it’s scary. We make decisions now that will impact the rest of our lives. No pressure, right?
I find that the beach makes all of these problems smaller. Just like the way a piece of sea glass starts out jagged and sharp edged, the unfinished edges of my life will round themselves out in time. Looking for sea glass, the salted breezing ruffling my hair, I know that my problems are not as major as I once thought when compared to the vastness of the ocean.
When I leave for my freshman year of college in just a couple of months, my jars of sea glass will come with me. Their unique colors and shapes will remind of the stunning beaches that make up such a large part of Cape May as well as the mental freedom that picking them has taught me.