Winter puts me in the funk of all funks, so the first day that it hit above forty degrees (and I finally managed to crawl out of my One Tree Hill cave), I wanted to sing from the rooftops. Not like I don’t love the four New England seasons (and not like I’m still bitter about that time in second grade when I fell into a ditch while skiing and no one came to help me…) but something in my heart always seems to lift when I know that summer is on its way.
I had been lacking major inspiration in basically every aspect of my life, and sometimes I get so stuck in my own way that I feel like no force on this earth can pull me out of it. I read over old work from school, flipped/cringed through dramatic journal entries from the past, but still couldn’t shake off whatever it was. So I did what I always do.
I drove to the ocean.
The sea seems to inspire a lot of people. Poets write about it, Jack Johnson sings about how he has to get to it. It’s one of the only places that I’ve ever been able to find complete clarity, a place that puts everything into such perspective.
I was at the beach last summer whenever I could have been, because even though everything around me was changing, the way that I felt there never seemed to. It was a temporary escape from all of the things (so many, many things) that I had no idea how to handle, and all of the things that I had no idea how to let go of. Last year was the first time that I ever actually dreaded the summer, because I knew that when it came, everything had to change. Naturally, instead of dealing with these problems head on, I decided “um, no” and completely lost myself there, like I was waiting for a message in a bottle filled with all of the missing answers.
When I was young, I literally wrote about everything; anything. I was going through old memories in the attic the other day and found this story I had written about a family of string beans trying to break out of the refrigerator (because when you’re an only child you have to create your own friends) ((thanks, Mom and Dad)). That girl who wrote those stories was so self-assured and so self-confident and did things so guiltlessly and fearlessly. There’s only one other time that I can remember being this way: when I was boarding that red eye flight to London and only looking back over my shoulder to reassure myself that I was actually doing it; as hard as I’ve tried to, I feel like I can’t find my way back to her.
As I watched the waves crash onto the shore, I thought about the way that things come and go just as quickly as they do. I wasn’t who I was when I wrote about angst-ridden legumes, and I wasn’t who I was last summer (and thank God because that was the moodiest version of me yet). And maybe I needed to be them, then. But there is something so miraculous that happens when you realize that you no longer can fit the pieces of your former self together. I guess that’s what I’ve always loved the most about the ocean, the constant change of the tides turning over new waters, and the way it so seamlessly and gracefully lets everything go.
And maybe, (just maybe), I can too.