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Anywhere but Delaware

by Jessica Ennis
(St. Paul, Minnesota, USA)

I thought I hated the beach. I had gone to the beach nearly every warm weekend of my childhood, enduring a two and a half hour drive through the flat melancholy of rural Delaware. I was young enough to be confined to a back seat and subjected to my mother's music of the moment. We could play the CD in its entirely two to three times before we finally arrived. Then there was the mad dash through mosquito laden are to reach our dark and musty trailer home near the beach.

In the morning, if my mother was feeling up to it, we would go to the beach. It was better than sitting inside in the dark, or maybe if would have been if not for all the sand. I hated the sand. It climbs into your hair, into your bag, mixed with sunscreen to make a gritty paste and collects into the crotch of your bathing suit. I loved the ocean and thought, if only I could move it somewhere else, somewhere without so much sand. The ocean is, in reality, a morass of dead and decaying thing, but it smells infinitely clean and as large as the Earth. It smells like being anywhere but Delaware.

I possibly never appreciated this as much as I should have; when I moved to anywhere but Delaware-- Minnesota to be exact-- I reveled in the thought of pristine lakes and cool grass leading up to them rather than course, hot sand.

I did not know the lakes would smell of the decay I only imagined to exist in the ocean. I could not have predicted the way duckweed clung to my skin and large insects scrambled up my bathing suit straps. The lake bottom is something softer than even mud should be-- something vile and slimy. Around me, Minnesotans frolic and laugh and enjoy their swim and all I can think is-- what I wouldn't give to be back in Delaware.

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