Growing up in rural Ohio, my life until 18 was mostly cornfields and endless country roads. I grew up in a tiny town of less than 2000 people, and went to an equally tiny high school, with a miniscule graduating class of 81 (I like to think of myself as that special extra one, heyooooo). The closest body of water was the local pool, and outside of that, a few hours’ drive north, was Lake Erie. I remember sitting on those dirty, mostly muddy beaches with my mom and grandma and sister, playing in the sandbars that appeared at low tide, rubbing that disgusting muck all over our bodies. And I remember hot summer days as a teenager driving out to the “beach” in Delaware with friends, lazing the days away in a land-locked Midwest style, no real beaches needed but the water was good enough, and it didn’t even need to be actually hot outside. Just better than warm was fine.
Now, I have a house on the river, sandwiched between its languid flow and a beach a few hundred yards away, a few minutes walk behind us. A beach, mind you, that fights English tradition and actually has a fair amount of sand on it when the tide is low enough! And if we stay here, we could have kids here. And my hypothetical future progeny would be….dare I say it….water people. They could grow up knowing the tides and the sea mist and stormy days on the seafront and winters by the Channel and little else. They could probably be outdoorsy because we sure do take a lot of long nature and/or beach walks around here. And by “outdoorsy” I mean outdoorsy activities would be forced upon them until they reached the age at which they could reasonably sass their way out of it. They would not live near farms, they would not know corn fields and what should be knee high by the fourth of July, and they would not know endless country roads and the joy of driving down them. Maybe they’d join a rowing team (a LOT of people row around here), or maybe they wouldn’t, but I bet they’d know people who did. They wouldn’t be bothered by the rain or the gloom, year round at least not like I am, because it would be completely normal for them. And they’ll probably think winter here is cold, when it isn’t really, they just won’t be used to seeing snow every year. Maybe they’d like canoeing, or body boarding, or be those brave English surfers that I’m always so impressed by (because beach or not, it’s oh so cold here and I’ve still never been in the water, Shoreham or Brighton, and it’s going on 3 years now….maybe this summer will be the year it changes).
I guess the point of this is that life is weird, and I can’t help but think of my ancestors, my peoples’ people who were European, and how they married people from other places, and immigrated to the States many moons ago, and the marriages and the procreations that just kept on keeping on, and generations later, I’ve moved back across the ocean, from whence we came, and seriously, the universe boggles and circles come back upon themselves and here we all are.
It’s hard to imagine.