Living in California all my life, my affinity for the sea comes fairly naturally. I was the little girl who played mermaid every chance she got, (including in the bathtub) and the one who plunged directly into the ocean water without hesitation, no matter how cold it was. My imagination could not be matched by that of any of my friends, and my dreams were as numerous as the shells on the beach.Yet as I got older things became different, new emotions brought new loves, and new loves brought new hurts. I grew up. And the shells were gradually picked up and taken one by one. As I sit here now, 18 years old, which is still very young by all standards, my love for the ocean consumes me just like it always did. The wind in my hair, sand in my toes, the air crisp, yet soft and salty. Things are different now. Im older. Im here with a new love, the one I plan on spending the rest of my life with, and things are… beautiful. I’m watching him now. As I sit here and think, he is the one who braves the ocean, giant goggles on and body board in hand. Sure he comes back within five minutes because it’s too cold, but he faced it head on, and thats what matters. And I come to the conclusion that being 18 really is a whole lot different than I thought it would be. My dreams are no longer sea shells, instead they are like the waves, constant yet changing, developing and evolving. But somehow that doesnt matter anymore. After all, my love for THIS place is permanent. 18 years from now, I bet I’ll look back to this time and laugh at my own lack of wisdom, but for now, right now, this is real, and wonderful, and nothing else really matters.