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When I grabbed my sweatshirt and started running out of the house, there was no rational reason for it. I wasn't sure where I was going or why I was going there. I just needed somewhere to escape to. I felt so out of place in my house. What I was so sick and tired of, I wasn't sure. All I knew was that if I stayed at home any longer, my heart would burst and the jelly of me would spill all over the creamy porcelain kitchen tile.

Running can make you feel like you're not even in your own skin. You're not stuck in a body, your mind is free to go wherever it wants to visit. My legs kept moving, moving, moving, and my destination was like the leaky faucet in the guest room bathroom that you never think about: lost in the tangle of thoughts that infest minds. Actually, I didn't care where I was running to. The wind brushing at my face was soothing, and as my legs moved in a rhythmical motion I could feel my feet pushing off the ground with every step. As I ran, I closed my eyes and let my feet absorb everything that surrounded me. There was welcoming, cake-batter-like ground, lumpy and soft, that made my feet dance a shhp shhp shhp dance. Then there was the thud thud thud of my sneakers on cold asphalt, the yellow brick road of city people.

Pebble Beach: Welcome! The sign surprised me because my house was eleven miles away from the beach. Slowing to a walk, I kicked off my shoes and carelessly left them in a pile by a piece of driftwood.

A Breath of Fresh Air barefoot at the beach
The beach isn't all seashells, sand, and water It's a whole world...

Along the seashore, I observed all of my surroundings. The beach was an incredible place. The ocean had always been stunning to me, because it's always there. No matter what's happening in the human world, you can count on the salty seawater tickling the shore to be there.

Little holes in the path I strolled gave a preview of the crab life beneath all of the caked sand. I had always wondered how the creatures breathed down under the ground. Did they get claustrophobic?

Were there oysters on the seashore? My little sister Leah had always wanted a pearl in its shell. Since I was in a pondering mood, I let my mind wonder and wander. Didn't the grains of sand that came before a pearl could be made hurt the oysters? Wouldn't it be like a permanent itch? The oysters couldn't do anything about it. If I were an oyster I would just want that grain of sand out of my shell. Out of my life. But if I couldn't get it out, what would I do? I would... try to make the best out of it. Maybe that's what a pearl really is. A result of patience, endurance, and finally, a beautiful, smooth treasure.

A Breath of Fresh Air oyster

I had never really become conscious of the fact that the beach's beauty wasn't all in the view. The beach isn't all seashells, sand, and water. It's a whole world, from seaweed cartwheeling onto the shore, to the symphony of seagulls' shrieks. And, like so many other things, it has meaning behind it. The ocean's steadfast trustworthiness and an oyster's patience, labor, and finally triumph were examples of what could happen in my life. Next time my sister clung to me like a wet swimsuit, I wouldn't shrug her off like usual. I would listen to her and help her feel less insecure, even if she was irritating. I'd make the little things in life become my grains of sand, and I'd turn them into pearls.

A day at the beach, exposed to nature's examples of patience and dependability, had eroded all my frustration at city life away, and with a fresh perspective about my world, I was ready to go home.

A Breath of Fresh Air Katharine Pong
Katharine Pong, 12
Burlingame, California