I wake up sometime between nine and ten in the morning with texts and missed calls from my friends and roll around in my bed to stretch. The sun is shining through the window that hangs over my head and tints my entire room green from the curtain it glares through. As soon as I become energized enough to get up, I head downstairs to pack my bag for the day. Within twenty minutes I am out the door and in my little black Toyota Avalon headed to the shore.

I roll all the windows down and allow the hot, humid air to hit my barely dressed body in every direction while blaring country music. My hair whips me in the face and the smell of salt air erodes my nostrils as I cross over the bridge into a little town called Longport that sits at the bottom of New Jersey. Streets are piled in with cars from block to block with different licenses plates from all over the country. The black parts of the streets are hot and burn my feet with every step I take closer to the wooden steps leading me onto the beach.

After stepping on the third step you can see if the beach is busy or not, which it usually is. As I walk onto the beach, the sand creeps in between every crevice of my feet and warm my toes as I walk over to a group of my friends sitting about 50 feet from the greenish-blue ocean water. The wind is light and cool, but the sun blazes hard on my face as hundreds of seagulls circle above overhead looking for food to pick out of visitors hands. I immediately start to feel my pale skin burn from the sun and start a slow jog down to my friends. I am greeted with music coming for the boom box and somewhere between twenty to thirty hellos, plus the sounds of waves crashing on the shore in the distance. The fog from earlier in the morning is still disappearing from the air and the buildings from the surrounding towns are becoming more and more visible to our eyes.

Immediately, I walk down to the water to feel the temperature. The wind becomes stronger with each step, along with the smell of salt. My feet sink deep into the muddy sand as I pass little kids building messy sand castles with brightly covered shovels and pails. A mixture of laughter and cries come from them depending on whether or not other kids are sharing and, suddenly, as I'm not paying the slightest bit of attention, a shock of cold liquid comes over my feet and ankles and I bounce up on my tippy-toes. I take my time going deeper and deeper into the ocean trying to avoid the sharp shells that sit underneath the water that I cannot see because it’s far from clear. I push the thoughts of creepy critters and flesh-eating sharks out of my mind as the water engulfs my entire body and I go under the water.

We all run in and out of the ocean sporadically throughout the day as we get sweaty and sandy playing games. Pizza and subs are delivered to groups from the local food shops, which have the seagulls on high alert.

The lifeguards begin to pack up as we do and we are the last people to leave the beach. Walking off is much different from walking on the beach. The now-cool sand sticks to the bottom of my moist feet and my body is sticky with a combination of sweat, salt, and sand. Walking back to my car is quiet and the streets are empty from other cars. I crack the windows and journey home still blasting country music and reflect on the day, only knowing afterwards that it was one of the most stress-free days I’ve had in a long time. Then the countdown begins as to when I can return to me most favorite place on the planet.