Vignettes By erin mehigan

Turtles

Hawaii is a kid’s paradise. Especially for an eleven year old who loves nature and the beach. The animals, the ocean, my family, what’s not to love?

The sun was bright, and the waves were happily crashing against the sand, like an enthusiastic drummer crashing on his drumkit. Children screamed in delight as they spotted giant sea turtles just feet away in the water. The beatiful blue water was speckled with snorkelers as they swam out to the animals and the reefs. As I neared the water, the ground turned from hot sand into slippery, cool rock, slick with algae. I slipped into the cool, soothing water with my cousin and my sister and glanced back at the rest of my family smiling under the shade of a palm tree.

While treading, the three of us spotted a turtle swimming right towards us. Though we knew they were friendly and peaceful, like flitting butterflies on a summer day, we ran, smiling and screaming, out of the water. This continued for many minutes. Us, running and flopping into the waves like a cannonball, and then sprinting, slipping and squealing out of the water.

The sky had begun to turn dark, but no joy had been lost from this. Like she had done dozens of times before, my sister shouted, “Turtle!!” Quickly she and my cousin rushed from the water. All of a sudden, my foot landed on a patch of algae and I went slipping, sliding and skidding to the ground. I struggled to stand and braced myself on the ground, looking down and placing my hand there. Beneath my hand was a pink piece of cloth. Puzzled and getting almost panicked to escape the approaching turtle, I picked up the thing and realized it was my bathing suit top! As quick as I could I hugged myself and sunk into the water and looked up to see if anyone had seen. Of course, my entire family was lining the beach, looking to see if I was okay after my fall. Slipping and trying to crawl my way up the beach with only one hand was becoming increasingly difficult. From the beach, my mother yelled, “Just let go Erin, and stand up! No one will look!” Being the uncomfortable eleven year old I was, I absolutely refused and continued to drag my way up. After fighting for what must have only been a minute or two, but what seemed to feel like twenty, I made my way to the warm sand and tied my bathing suit back on as fast as I could. I kept my head down as I approached my family and felt embarrassment burning in my stomach, like a witch’s cauldron brewing a toxic potion. Without listening to a word they said, I continued walking, right past them and up to our hotel room. For the rest of the trip, any mention of turtles brought back a rush of self-consciousness that soured my mood as quickly as putting salt in your coffee instead of sugar.

My Name

What does my name mean? I always wondered how I got my name. After asking my parents, I found out they named me after a girl they were both friends with in high school. They said she was a lovely girl, one who was kind, and fun and strong. Her laugh was beautiful and infectious, like the pitter-patter of rain on a summer’s day. After her untimely death, my parents chose to honor her memory by naming their second daughter after her. I am proud of this fact and I hope to inspire the people around me one day, just as she did.

There is another meaning behind my name though. When my parents told my grandparents about what they were thinking of naming me, it made them ecstatic. My grandparents are very Irish people and they loved hearing the name Erin. To them, Erin represents a different part of my history. The actual definition of Erin means “Ireland forever”. Three generations ago, my great-great grandparents travelled over to America from Ireland. They had about as much money as a farmer in a draught and struggled tremendously to make a good life for their family. This struggle continued, even when my grandparents were young. They both grew up in a poor apartment building in Somerville, Massachusetts. Once they fell in love, got married and got pregnant, they decided they were going to do everything in their power to provide a good life for their family. The both got jobs, working until a late age to provide for both their kids and grandkids. To them, my name was a representation of all they had sacrificed for their family.

I am proud to represent the strong spirit of not only the Erin before me, but of my family as a whole. I love to represent them, and I will make my name also represnt all the good things I will do.

Skin

All throughout my life, people have talked about my skin. I’ve been told my skin is as soft as a freshly laundered sheet. I’ve been told my skin is smooth as beach sand in the morning. But most of all, people talk about how tan my skin is, especially in comparison to my pale family, where I stick out like a black bear in the cold winter. “Why are you still tan?” people would ask me well into the winter. The reason behind that would be my grandparents.

My grandma on my dad’s side is about as Italian as pizza. Every Thanksgiving we break tradition from the classic turkey and mashed potatoes to make stuffed shells, lasagna, and chicken parm. According to her, my dark skin is because of her parents before her, coming to America from Italy in the 1920s.

However, my grandmother on my mom’s side has something else to say. She claims that I get my dark skin from her. Her skin color is an anomaly to us all. Her parents both had Scandinavian backgrounds and were some of the palest people I’ve ever met. You could lose the pair of them in a snow storm. She claims that the two of us are alike, unlike our family members but like each other.

I disagree with the both of them. I don’t think I get my coloring from one of them. I know I get it from both. Both of my grandparents have affected who I am, and are an instrumental part in my development and personality. I am proud to be anything like these amazing women before me, and am very proud to be able to represent the both of them.

Credits:

Created with images by edfungus - "writing cursive pen" • BKD - "beach palms hawaii"

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