Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Think Kit #10: Touching Two Oceans

This year, I touched two oceans. In August I flew to California, and touched the Pacific several times. When we hit the PCH just past Half Moon Bay, we slid down a rope to an abandoned, rocky beach. I ran into the cold waves until my feet were frozen, pulsing with hurt. I sprinted up the warm sand past rusty piles of beer cans and month-old bonfire remains.

I waded past my knees in the much warmer surf off the boardwalk in Santa Barbara, pulling my shorts up in an Urkel-like maneuver until they were scrunched against my pale thighs. The water was more green and yellow than blue, though I spent more time gazing back at the palm trees and distant mountains.

In Venice Beach, we arrived at sunset and low-tide, the sky reflecting off the inch-high waves that felt like quiet velvet barely brushing the tops of your feet. The next day was windy, and the waves were knock-you-down violent. We got in past our waist, saw a small shark nosing about, and moved further down the beach. Occasionally, two waves would catch up to each other like just-full-grown dogs – the force swept my feet out and ground me against the sand, ripping my swimtrunks down to my knees while I surfaced slowly in order to stay clothed.

(Venice Beach, low-tide, looking North. August 2013.)

In November, Amelia & I flew down to Florida to see my parents. In Indian Rocks, after a sandwich and a Yuengling, we walked towards the ominously-colored sky to the beach, the wind whipping a few spare drops like tiny comets. The water was warm, and the low, strong tide was eating a two-foot tall shelf along the lower half of the beach. We walked a few hundred yards in the water until the storm rolled closer in and we broke from the car.

A few days later, we visited some other traveling Hoosiers in Redington Beach. We walked several miles down the beach, wading in and out of the water and passing under a pier where a family was taking family pictures in front of some grizzled pelicans. On Honeymoon Island, the rocks and crushed shells became too sharp to walk barefoot on, so despite the warm water, we put our shoes back on, driving down the causeway and setting up camp chairs to watch the sunset with a fat cigar and a full stomach.

The final night of the trip, Clearwater Beach was abandoned, in full post-Thanksgiving hangover mode. We walked down the beach in the late afternoon and watched a pod of dolphins swim around a couple hundred yards out. One went against the flow of his friends and jumped a full six feet out of the water. After dinner, it was too dark to walk on the beach filled with forgotten sand pits, paunchy jellyfish, and the chill of the ocean at night.

On the boardwalk, past a few lonely vendors selling jewelry and cell phone accessories and face painting, there was a completely empty bandstand blasting music from a lone speaker jauntily propped up on a metal cart.
(Prancing the rocky beach in Florida, December 2013.)

In 2006, I touched the Pacific and Atlantic on two separate tours with Everything, Now!
In 2012, I touched the North Sea while on a European sojourn in Newcastle, and the Pacific in Seattle's Golden Gardens Park, while visiting for my brother's wedding.
Each time has felt distinctly different and ripe with importance, like a clear bell of blessing. A tone that resonates for days inside my body.

I want to make a habit of touching two oceans in a year.

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