It all feels like yesterday when I went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with my best friend Amy, and her parents. After 17 years of never being to the beach, on July 30th 2013, my life would change. It was the first time I would feel the sand squeeze between my toes and under my nails, witness people sitting comfortably under an umbrella drinking margaritas, and children squealing with laughter. It is something each person should experience at least once in their life.
Packing was hard enough for me. I had an ancient, ginormous Samsonite suitcase to fill up with colorful Victoria’s Secret bathing suits, cover ups, formal dinner clothes, and shoes. As you would expect a teenage girl to do, I over packed. Finally, we left for the Harrisburg airport on Tuesday, the 30th at 6AM. As we boarded at 7:15, I couldn’t help but notice how small and crammed this airplane was; nothing like the airplane in Jodi Foster’s Flightplan. As we situated, the pilot announced to “turn off all electronic devices until further notice”. Because I had an iPhone, I experienced problems with turning off my phone. The button was stuck, so I turned on airplane mode, no big deal right? Then the pilot came on the intercom again and said “Airplane Mode will not work, please turn all devices off.” My heart started racing, and I was having a panic attack. Would we crash just because I cannot turn my phone off? Amy is whispering in my ear “We are going to die because of you.” By this time I was crying and tried to calm myself down. The flight attendant told us they were having mechanical problems with the plane’s “computer system”. I was in complete shock. At 7:45 AM we finally took off the runway. As soon as we reached a certain altitude, the flight attendant said it was okay to turn devices on and use them on airplane mode. Relieved that we lived, but still stressed, I took the best 4 hour nap until we arrived in the notorious and extremely hot South Carolina.
It was noon by the time we checked out the rental car and reached the hotel. The Long Bay Resort was beautiful; 14 floors of rooms, all facing the never-ending shore. Inside our suite 1024, it was a very spacious and relaxing environment. The first thing I did was run to the back door, step out onto the balcony and breathe in the salty air. From our floor you could see the resort’s pool, the sand, and the ocean; I have waited for this moment for seventeen years. It felt like a dream come true. After settling in, we went to eat at a local deli. I had a Chicken Cesar Wrap, it was way better than McDonald’s. Everywhere we went over the four day trip, had amazing food. Big restaurant’s like Chucks Steakhouse, Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, and 5 Star all had equally fulfilling food as compared to small, worn down shacks that were down the street from our hotel. Every morning, we got into the habit of waking up at 9 o’clock for breakfast, then around 10 we would shop for a few hours, come back to the hotel, and go to the beach for the remainder of the day. Our resort was on Ocean Blvd. and since it was so close to the busy city area, we would walk to breakfast, and the significantly large shopping malls.
The third day we went down to the beach early in the morning to catch stronger waves. Boogie Boarding is like an art form; it is so hard to master the technique to get a full ride into the shore and requires a lot of patience. After practicing my boarding skills for the first two days, I was totally ready for the big boy waves. Watching all the waves crashing, some gently and some with force is a beautiful sight. The salt from the ocean stung my eyes and my nose was constantly dripping. I would hang on my boogie board and let the ocean sing me a song and rock me to sleep. Then my relaxation was interrupted by Amy yelling “Char! Let’s get this one!” I turned my back to the wave, held the board out, and started to flutter kick. The wave carried me like a baby, and then suddenly pulled me under. Complete darkness surrounded me as I lost control of my board. An instant later, I was tumbling and summersaulting through small sharp shells and rocks on the shore. I could feel my thighs being sliced and back being scratched. All my weight was on my cheekbone for a moment and time slowed down. As the wave receded, I tried to get back up on my feet but was pulled under again with the next wave. I thought my cheek bone was broken and a shell pierced my eye because I could not see anything let alone open my eye. Salt, sand, and water swashed around in my mouth and I called for Amy’s help. “Amy come help me! I fell! Hurry!” Amy looked confused like I was talking to myself. “What?” she said. “Do I look okay? Am I bleeding? Can you see my eyes? I think my cheekbone is broken? We have to go inside!” I wimpered. She said I was bleeding a little on my cheekbone and to press the scratch with my towel, but that only stung more because my towel was filled with small granules of sand. When I got back into the room and I crawled to the shower then put some ice on my cheekbone. When we went to eat dinner that night, it hurt to chew like someone was pushing a fork into my eye and Amy’s parents were staring at me with wide eyes.
The next morning was our last day and my favorite day at the beach. I had strawberry pancakes for breakfast, and then we lay out on the beach listened to music and drank Starbucks’ Frappuccino’s. Alternating between boogie boarding, tanning, and jumping in the resort’s pool was a lot of fun. Before the trip my skin was the same shade as Emma Stone’s and after four days of allowing the sun’s powerful UV Rays to penetrate my skin with the help Coppertone’s tanning oil, my skin was the shade of Beyoncé’s.
I rested in my comfortable kind sized bed, the night before we left to fly back to Lebanon, and I kept hearing this loud person’s voice echoing from a few floors down. I could not understand what the man was saying so I just listened to music softly, trying to fall asleep. In the next five minutes, a loud voice booms right next to my door. I thought someone broke into our suite and I was sure that we were about to be held hostage. I took my head phones out and hear “Evacuate Immediately! You must evacuate immediately!” The voice sounded so real, but it was just a recording. Luckily, I had my suitcase packed, so I ran to wake Amy and her parents up and we left the room. Everyone on our floor, and the floors above were standing outside their rooms in their pajamas, discussing what was happening. I have a fear of dying in a hotel room from carbon monoxide, so I was hyped like I had three cups of coffee. Thirty minutes past midnight, the staff tells us it was a false alarm and we could go back into our rooms. Exhausted, I fell asleep quickly and within 3 hours, had to wake up and try to look presentable for the airport.
When we arrived back in Lebanon around lunch time on Saturday, August 3rd. I was happy as ever to be home and see my parents again, I missed the beach already. The atmospheres are so different. At the beach, I would wake up at 8 AM and it would be almost 90 degrees and sunny. Here in Lebanon, it was noon and chilly, probably 70 degrees with overcast. The colors were much more vibrant in Myrtle and I was used to people speaking with southern accents that I would randomly start talking with one.
There may not be an overall lesson to be learned from my beach trip, but I have learned a lot about myself as a person. Everyone needs to take time out for themselves, and relax. Myrtle Beach influenced my life in a positive way and has motivated me to get a good education and a career that I love, so when I have a family, we can travel to the south and make our own memories.