I often wonder how my mother, who grew up in a house on the beach, ever learned to sleep without the sound of crashing waves. When she first moved away from home, from the sounds of the Pacific lulling her to bed, was the silence deafening? Both of my parents had childhoods either on or near the beach, their paths almost crossing several times. And eventually, on this day, years ago, it’s where they finally did.
There really is nothing so magnificent, so powerful, so peaceful as the ocean. It’s one of those things you absolutely take for granted when you live on the coasts. I remember the shock when I first heard an adult say the words, “The first time I saw the ocean.” I don’t remember how old I was, I must have been quite small, but it was as if they said, “I remember the first time I saw the sun.”
I don’t remember a time when I first saw the ocean. It was, quite literally, one of the first things I did see.
Once upon a time, I could sit for hours building palaces on the shore. Collecting seashells, heart-shaped pebbles, freckles on my nose, and golden highlights in my hair.
Running back and forth from the shore with pails filled with wet sand, scooping out the sandcrabs that tickled the palm of my hand as I returned them to the sea. We’d construct our castles juuust close enough that we’d get a thrill if the foamy tide made contact with our fleeting fortress.
There’s a moment that sand shape shifts from fine powder to something abrasive. In that moment, a split second I can’t pinpoint, childhood goes out with the tide ever so slightly. Quietly, no crashing waves. Sneaking up like the tide on our mighty sand towers.
My memories are filled with the twists and turns of Malibu Canyon, my sister holding her breath to make a wish as we went through the tunnels and beyond. For as long as she could. Perhaps to make whatever wish she had wished that much more possible. xo a.
And now, five great things someone else said about the ocean:
The sea pronounces something, over and over, in a hoarse whisper; I cannot quite make it out. – Annie Dillard
The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea. – Isak Dinesen
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. – Mahatma Gandhi
We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something. – Mother Teresa
You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won’t really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we’ll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won’t wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be. – Anne Lamott