I am a lover of topography. Rolling hills, towering mountains, it does not matter. But something has changed…

I was raised in the rolling valleys of Pennsylvania. PA was my life blood, the place I called Home, and in many ways, will always be. Growing up in the north – with a mother from the south, a father whom I occasionally mistake for Jimmy Buffet, and two siblings who would choose sand over any other earthen matter – we would travel to southern shores on an annual (or more) basis.

When I hit my mid-teens, the thought of wearing a bathing suit terrified me.  My preference: layers upon layers upon layers of anything that would cover my body, and the faster winter set it, the better. When I got over the self image issue, the heat and humidity still hung heavily over my winter-filled heart. My decision was final: Mountains.

After a short stint in the central Colorado high country in 2009, the east called me back. Well, a boy headed east called me back, if we are going to be honest with ourselves. From New Jersey to Pennsylvania and finally coastal Maryland: the Eastern Shore. I lived on the coast for two l o n g years. Twenty four of the longest months of my life. One hundred and four of the most get-me-out-of-here weeks you could ever imagine.

So, to make an incredibly long, eventful, and emotion-packed story short: we left.

Forward to November 2014…
I am lucky enough to work for one of the greatest land management agencies in the federal government: the National Park Service. My job takes me all over the country and to some amazing places. This week, I spent four days on the outer banks of North Carolina at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

In all honesty, I was not excited to go to NC or the coast. Thoughts of humidity and sand were almost too much to bare. But then, I talked to my mother…

You may not know this woman, but if you met her, you would quickly understand the whirlwind that is: Marla. She is a force and I love her every day for it. As my mind and body felt the stress of work travel, my phone rang.

Me: hey mom…
Marla: video chat me when you can!
Me: i am super busy with work…not really sure when ill be able to. but i will.
Marla: you know youre visiting your grandmother out there.

Me: silence

As I watched the sun set to my back and the waves break at my bare feet, with no one else around, I was reminded of just how grateful I should be for every moment in every place no matter what the scene may be. My mother gave me a new perspective on the land, the sea, and life.

I thanked the grandmother that I never had a chance to meet.



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