I grew up above the ocean. Barely 8 feet of yard, a climbable cliff and a sea wall separated us all of my childhood years. I went to sleep to the faint sound of the waves crashing and woke up to the murmured shouts of the sea-mossers. I spent my summers running along the sea wall burning my feet on the hot boulders and swimming out to the "Big Rock" with my father. My bed was in a corner of the house that was all windows, and it was high, so I felt like I was on a boat. My soul grew out into that space to the horizon.
And when I left, my soul felt crowded. I felt like Edna must have when she wrote "Inland"
|PEOPLE that build their houses inland,|
|People that buy a plot of ground|
|Shaped like a house and build a house there,|
|Far from the seaboard, far from the sound|
|Of water sucking the hollow ledges,||5|
|Tons of water striking the shore,|
|What do they long for, as I long for|
| One salt smell of the sea once more?|
|People the waves have not awakened,|
|Spanking the boats at the harbor’s head:,||10|
|What do they long for, as I long for—|
|Starting up in my inland bed,|
|Beating the narrow walls and finding|
|Neither a window nor a door,|
|Screaming to God for death by drowning!—||15|
| One salt taste of the sea once more?|
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
I was far inland for a while - Ohio, Sacramento, then back east to Somerville and Arlington. But still, too far inland. Then closer to the shore, but in the wrong place. A place I took out of fear that there was nothing else, and stayed there far too long.
But then, recently, I saw a place that my heart wanted. That I dared to want. That I got. And now I am here. In peace. In a place that beckons me onto the streets to stretch me legs and see the sites. A place that calls me out after dinner to walk along the shore, step down to the docks and run a hand into the water, yes, it really is there. To fill my lungs back up again with the salt air. To think "some day when I am very very old and dying, please bring me to the ocean and let me go." To wonder if that is morbid, and then realize, no, it's not. It's just love.
Sometimes when I see the mountains, I want to hug them. You can't really hug the ocean. But you can sit next to it and smell it.