Updated: Feb 1, 2022
Traveler meets teacher meets beach bum
The year was 1987, and it was a sunny, yet otherwise unremarkable Thursday in Hermosa Beach, California, when the freckle faced, sarcastic teacher you know and love today was born. My parents brought me home to their small beachside apartment where they were living in the South Bay, the same place where I grew up, went to high school, and left only briefly for college in Orange County and a gap year in Brisbane, Australia.
Have passport, will travel
I wish I had childhood anecdotes about summers in the south of France or winters spent at my private ski chalet in Aspen, but alas, the only place I traveled to when I was little was Indiana to visit family or Big Bear, California, where our family friend owned a cabin.
Travel was in my blood though, even if I didn't realize it at the time; my grandmother, Elsie Sloth, was one of the first women in the United States to start her own travel business in the 1960's, and before long, I started dreaming of going to one place and one place only: Australia.
I have no recollection of where this insane love of Australia came from, but for as long as I can remember, I was obsessed with traveling there. My junior year of college, that dream finally became a reality when I studied abroad in northern Queensland for a semester at James Cook University. After that, I was hooked, and since then, I have traveled to eleven different countries and have had numerous adventures, from diving with nurse sharks in Belize to remote beach camping on Fraser Island.
But I don't wanna be a teacher
That was what I told myself over and over again growing up, anytime someone would ask me what my future looked like. My mom was a teacher, my uncle was a teacher, my cousin was a teacher, and in typical adolescent form, I wanted to do anything but follow in my family's footsteps. Despite my aversion to teaching, I always gravitated towards jobs that involved working with children. I started babysitting in high school, upgraded to a "mother's helper" job my first year of college, then finally settled into a part time role as a preschool teacher at Chapman's daycare center.
Graduation came and went in 2009, and I continued to work as a preschool teacher, as the recession was in full swing and entry level jobs for English majors were non-existent. I started to feel the familiar pull towards Australia, the same pull that drew me there in college, and with little preparation, I booked a one way plane ticket and took a job as an au pair with a family in Brisbane. Not only did this combine my love of working with children and travel, but it gave me the separation, distance, and change of perspective I needed to realize that I was meant to be a teacher all along. I returned from Brisbane after a year, enrolled in a teaching credential/master's program at my alma mater, Chapman, and landed a job teaching in my hometown in 2014.
Home is where the beach is
Just as I have always been drawn to teaching and travel, I have always loved the beach. My entire life, I have never lived more than thirty minutes away from a beach: not in college, not in Brisbane, and certainly not growing up in a city with the word "beach" in its name.
I am most content when my toes are in the sand and the ocean is slowly and methodically hitting the shores a few feet away. I would happily wear flip flops, cut off jean shorts, and a bathing suit every day for the rest of my life. I may not be the best swimmer and my one ill-fated surfing experience in high school may have scarred me for life, but I'm a beach girl, through and through.