Breathing in the salty air, I feel the wind blow against my face leaving red marks on my cheeks. As I stand facing Puget Sound I realize that this is what I am called to do. Our oceans need a hero, and I want that hero to be me. But I didn’t always feel this way. Born an east coast girl who emigrated over 10 years ago I didn’t realize I had such a strong connection to the ocean until I started considering moving away from it. Like most high school juniors and seniors I spent a lot of time researching colleges and planning trips. As a true east coast girl I always thought that’s where I would be headed for school, so I spent nearly a week driving up and down the coast stopping at tons schools along the way. But none of the historic sites, cobblestone streets, or “Harry Potter-esq” buildings held a sense of home.
So again I found myself back on the waterfront staring out on the Sound watching ferries cruise sluggishly by and a brave sailboat or two fight against the wind as waves crashed right below my feet. Then it hit me, no matter where I was born, Puget Sound was my real home. No birth certificate or lingering accent could change the fact that I feel a sense of calm when I look onto the Sound, a peacefulness and happiness I cannot find anywhere else. But something was ruining this pristine life-affirming moment of mine: a lone plastic bag drifting in with the tide. I stared down at this white bag that seems to be entangling itself against the rock wall below my feet. Frustrated beyond belief at my inability to rescue the bag I couldn’t take my eyes off it, until another large wave brought in a bottle cap. Then another brought in the bottle. And yet another a soda can. How could I look out on the majesty of the Sound and cherish a sense of calm when right below my feet garbage was collecting? Everything I had learned about littering, marine debris, and the Giant Pacific Garbage Patch suddenly became real. These were not far off topics. They were affecting the Puget Sound, MY Puget Sound, MY home. It was then I knew even if it meant moving away from my home for school, I would return with the knowledge and tools to save the Sound I love. So I took a deep breath and stared out at the sun just starting to set on the water and made a promise to Puget Sound, that one day soon I would return to save my home and be the hero it deserves.