I Believe In The Ocean

Dec 10, 2015

Essayist Tia Pattillo
Credit Tia Pattillo

I believe in the ocean. It has healing powers. The salt, sand, sea and sun all combine to take away every bit of worry in my being. When I look out over the waves and see a boat pass by, my heart smiles. When a seagull lurks behind my beach chair, or when a sand crab crawls up my towel, I know that I’m home.

For me, the ocean is so much more than where my family vacations every year. It’s more than the boardwalk and it’s more than just a place to get a tan. I stand on the water’s edge, close my eyes and picture one of the best days of my life with my dad.

You see, my dad and I have never gotten along. Probably because we are the same person in a lot of ways. For starters, we have the same temper and the same humor. We even have the same obnoxiously curly hair. But we do not share the same morals or the same views of the world.

Growing up, my dad didn’t know my favorite color or my favorite food. I don’t think he even knew what color my eyes were. He didn’t come watch me play sports and he didn’t come to parent-teacher conferences. He just wasn’t that guy. I used to cry myself to sleep, wondering what I was doing wrong

But during one of our beach vacations, I discovered that I was loved. For the first time in my childhood, my dad expressed genuine love, compassion and happiness towards me. He joked with me. He asked what I wanted to be in the future. It made me feel loved and appreciated.

That day, I laughed so hard that my stomach felt like I did 1000 sit-ups. I smiled until my cheeks felt like they would fall off. We surfed and played in the ocean until our hands were so pruney we looked like we were 90-years-old. I had hair filled with salt water and a soul filled with sunshine.

At the end of the day, my dad smiled at me and said, “You want to go for all-you-can-eat crab legs until we puke?”

My answer was a resounding yes. My dad and I ate 32 plates of crab legs that night. With melted butter dripping from our mouths and stomachs the size of watermelons, we talked about life and just enjoyed being with one another. That day, we strengthened our relationship.

I credit it all to the ocean. It can cure any sadness, heartache or worry. It can wipe away tears and reduce any anxiety. The sea shines light in the darkest of places, just like it did for me. I’ll always be grateful for what it has done and how it has helped me. Ah, the smell of salt and sand, there is no elixir on this blessed earth like it. 

Tia Pattillo is a sophmore majoring in psychology and neuroscience. Once she graduates, she hopes to attend medical school and become a neurosurgeon.