I met you long ago, with your presence merely a brief walk through the waving field between you and me. Summar days starting and ending with your embrace. Diving for colored rocks and pennies in the shallow end, and wrestling with a greased watermellon in the deep end. The beach a place for volleyball and wiffle ball, and many deep connections. Blossoming friendships amongst the many children and parents. Special events marked by barbecues and hand held walks under the moon lit sky. Sneaking the occasional cigarette, drink or joint while the adults partied away, well lubricated by their own beverage of choice. One summer I was the log rolling champion, having finally defeated the long running champion, Audrey Goff, whom, to this day, I remember as a most beautiful girl and wonderful source of joy. I held the record for years for standing on the log the longest, something like 3.5 hours, but a friend’s son has since surpassed that mark of 35 years ago. My brothers were life guards, as were friends, but I just played and swam in your green softness all day long. Summers of adolescent love and adventure, all embraced by the love of your fluidity, flexibility, support, and soft place to land.
Besides being with you every summer day, my family or friends and I would steal brief trips to visit with your source. If not to the shore, then we would venture to a lake, where our native ancestors once thrived or to a pond where they journeyed to spirit and hunted for food. Ferris wheels. Walks on the sand or wooden planks of old. Sailboat racing. Canoeing. Campfires. Wherever you were, I found joy, tranquility, friendship, vulnerability, and spirit.
You caressed me as I grew up. You surrounded me. You provided safety in my vulnerability and youthful indiscretions. You touched me, held me, soothed me, and carried me. You encouraged me to explore, and you brought the flow to my path, my journey.
It is not until today, while enjoying your beauty and essesnce, as a middle age man, did I realize how much you played a role in my life. My first major in college, oceanography, was the main reason I moved 3000 miles away from home to attend college. I wanted to sudy you, your life force, and your support of human kind. You see, I was captivated by you and our relationship, and I always wanted you by my side, or, more appropriately, holding me with each step I took forward. I did not want to stray away from you.
While my major changed in college (a few times!), my relatinship with you did not. Favorite memories include watching the sun set over a Seattle bay, and taking walks on the sand washed by your tides. Romantic dinners, bike and ferry rides, and hikes, all to enjoy you, as you continued to caress and love me. Even when I left Seattle to attend graduate school in land-locked Denver, we found ways to connect. I felt your grasp through the trickling waters of the Rocky mountain streams, my daily jogs around a city pond nearby, and the grace of your support while trying to wind surf on the resevoir.
I missed your larger presence during graduate school, but one of my most favorite memories during this time was taking a few weeks to go back to the East coast to be with my parents, who had a beach house on the Jersey Shore. I stained the house for them during the day while enjoying the evenings with friends, sailing, dancing, and talking. One night, my dad’s best friend and I went sailing. Little did we know a small craft advisory had been issued. Our little boat was toppeled in the wind and the mast got stuck in the mud. We couldn’t flip the boat and the waves were getting high, as we got tossed about. Fortunately, you rescued us by sending a watchful neighbor who knew we would be in trouble as he saw us sailing into the waling winds.
As graduate school came to an end, I entertained job offers from a few different universities but my decision was easy, as I found you again in Santa Barbara. What a glorious beach, graced by your amazing waves and setting sun each day. A most incredible two years of my life. Such deep and life lasting freindships, wonderful love, and deep wounds, all embraced by your unending love. Crazy events happened with you. My first skinny dippy experience during a moonlit night. Getting hit on the head with a shovel by my best friend as we raced to dig a foxhole in the beach to protect ourselves from fireworks one 4th of July. I was the first injury that day at the emergency room, but came back to the beach with plenty of time to enjoy the festivities, beingg offered drinks and pot by strangers in celebration of my safe return to the beach with patch covering my swollen and stiched eye brow.
Circling back to my college aspirations of studying you, I learned to scuba dive in Santa Barbara with two dear friends. We had a blast exploring your reaches together, and wrapped up our certification with a wonderful exploration of your Caribbean colors off Cozumel. Diving amongst your long fingers found in kelp, observing hundreds of baracuda circling around the rays of the penetrating sun while we sat on your sea bed, and respectfully navaigated your colors of coral, rocks, and fish. What glory, peace, and tranquility. Totally at peace, knowing this is where I belong.
My journey has taken me from coast to coast, and to many islands, far and near, cold and warm, some dark but most were much brighter than my home state. Almost every vacation has been to be with you. I live on a island now, and have for the past 20 years. You have surrounded, touched me, and held me my entire life. You have loved me all along, and now I am realizing how deep this love really is. I don’t think I understood the depth of our relationship and the need I have for you, unitl now, but I do know I have always held you deep in my heart and deep in my soul. I am so grateful for you. I am in awe of you. I honor you.
I found ways to push myself with your support. You provided a venue for triathlons in my 30s and 40s and then in my 50’s you allowed me to be caressed by your waves while surfing your power and grace. Yea, occasioanlly you threw me over board, turning me about as if I were in a washing machine, but you encouraged me back on the board. I have watched the sun rise over you and the sun set beyond you. I have sailed on you, cruised on you, kayaked on you, and swam in you. You have been my sustainer. You have brought amazing colors to my life, along with tranquility and wisdom. You have romanced me, and you have dared me. You have taught me to not give up and you taught me to dive deeper, over and over again.
My soul belongs with you, and I am thankful you have shown me unconditional love all these years. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.