This Is the Story of You Giveaway (and the winner(s) are...)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A few weeks ago, when I posted the THIS IS THE STORY OF YOU giveaway, I hoped for a handful of stories about the sea—quick imagery.

What happened instead is that some very beautiful memories, shaped inside some very beautiful sentences, came my way.

And then I was stuck. How could I choose (even randomly) a single winner?

With thanks to Lara Starr and the entire Chronicle team, I do not have to. Please read below the words that floated my way for this giveaway. All of you here have won. Please send me your mailing addresses.

Hilary Morgan:
There is a sea in Scotland, bordered by a black beach. A beach of stone, covered in seaweed. The sea is a brilliant color, a stark contrast to the dark shore. The sea is almost so enchanting I almost don't see my friend slip on the sea-wet seaweed and fall right on his back. But I do, and this trip to the hardened coast of Scotland is all the more memorable.

Jennifer Hoppins:
I've only ever taken one trip with my daughter, just the two of us. Although we've shared years of family vacations there was this one adventure we had---to celebrate my graduation from college. I had read in a travel guide about this place on the Outer Banks where you could go hang-gliding near the beach. Not a big risk taker, I surprised everyone by saying that this, more than anything was how I wanted to mark the occasion---by soaring on the breeze. On the evening after our solo flights (a feeling that now makes me jealous of all birds, even vultures!) we got a permit to have a campfire on the beach. That night, my teen daughter opened up and talked to me, laughing and being completely free, as if the roles of mother and daughter had been erased, and we were simply people who loved one another. I will remember her face in the dark, while the waves rolled in under the full moon, always.

Melissa Sarno:
A sea story... I learned to swim at my Aunt and Uncle's house on Bayville beach, thanks to Aunt Angie. She wasn't actually my Aunt. She was, just, everyone's Aunt. She wore a bathing suit with a skirt that bubbled up and ruffled around the surf and she called herself 'a waterbaby'. I don't even really know what that means. But she held on to my belly while I kept my chin high and I paddled and paddled above the safety of her arms. And when she decided I was ready, she let go, and I magically stayed afloat, chin up and paddling. Every year, somebody somewhere at some family function will mention Aunt Angie and, inevitably, that person will say, 'she taught me to swim at Bayville beach' and her sister will say, 'she taught everyone to swim at Bayville beach. She was a waterbaby.' 

Colleen Mondor:
I can not tell you only one story about the sea; I can only tell you I have thousands. When you grow up on the ocean, when your feet are in the sand before you can walk, when you learn to ride the waves by catching them on your father's back, when this is the life you have known then it is impossible to distill it down to one story.

How do I make you understand that there is an ocean, a stretch of beach, that I know better than my own body?

I will give you this then, Beth, one short story, a few lines of what it is to be me and my brother and my father. After my father's surgery, his body cut open to remove a cancer that never left, he asked me to take him to the beach. He had never spent the night in the hospital, had never even broken a bone, and now he was shredded and tired and worn. He was pale; my eternally tanned father was pale.

So we drove across the causeway, looked at the pelicans on the Indian River, turned onto A1A and then up to his beach. He had an "office" there on the sand, he was known as the "Mayor." Every day before his second shift job, swimming with the lifeguards half his age, fishing with us, body surfing with us, listening to ballgames on countless lazy summer afternoons. This was his beach in all name.

I had to help him up the six steps to the boardwalk and he sat down there heavily on the bench, too tired to walk on the sand. He just wanted to see it he told me, he wanted to smell the salt air.

"Now I believe I'm still alive," he said.

I didn't cry. He didn't want me to cry, so I didn't. But it was one of the hardest things I've ever done to keep those tears at bay.

My father died almost three years later and, good Catholic that he was, made arrangements to have his ashes interred in consecrated ground at a church on A1A, where you can hear the ocean's roar. My brother and I, beach babies all our lives, agreed to hold back a small portion of his ashes and my brother took them out into the water a few weeks later as a storm brewed offshore. We had to give some part of him to the sea; it's where he had taught us over and over that he truly belonged.

That's the ocean for me; impossibly connected to the heart of my family. I miss it everyday.

Victoria Marie Lees:
As always, Beth, I love your photos and your words. All the best in 2016! A short sea story/scene:
Can a sea breathe romance? It can if you escape from the daily grind of parenting five beautiful children for a few days’ respite on your fifteenth wedding anniversary.

Two lovers drag their toes in a beach drenched in gritty powdered pink coral; the sea clear as glass displays a dance of sergeant major fish. The sea is frigid for so late in May. At Bermuda’s Horseshoe Bay Beach, the couple reminisces about life and love and strive not to repeat an element of their honeymoon when they both turned as pink as the sand.

Emily Lewis:
The first time my toe touched the ocean I felt like I was hugged by God himself. The smell of the ocean, the crash of the waves and the feel of sand and salt between my toes was truly moving. Coming from Wisconsin I am no stranger to beauty...I am surround by forests, lakes, fields of corn. But the vastness of the ocean...the endlessness of the sea...makes you feel like a speck on the map of the world. It allows you to put life into perspective. How can one not be moved to tears to see the wonders in the world? The hidden treasures are among us...whether an ocean, a butterfly or a snowflake find your wonder!


Jenny Hoppins said...

I loved reading all the sea stories! They are wonderful. Thank you for this experience Beth, and for sharing your book with us!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

What a privilege to be on your blog, Beth. Thank you with all my heart!

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