Breathe deep. Close your eyes. Touch the ground. Lie down. Release yourself.

The wind cries. The sun coaxes. The wildflowers wave. The earth stretches. The world bends.

Bends into my lungs and touches my face. Whips my hair and brushes my eyelashes. Colors my vision and finesses my perception.


Soft and sharp. Blue and green. Cool and warm. Salty.

Gently, it shows me I am nothing. Another being. On its surface. Destined to travel without purpose because I question. Destined to look inside for nothing and outside for everything. Destined to forever search.

The wind laughs as I quietly sink. Giving in, I bend.

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I forgot how much I love the Pacific Ocean, how much its rhythm quiets me, how fast it breaks me from my complacency, how quickly it wakes me into the present; coloring my mind with the soft sound of lapping, crashing, receding, and the white of the water’s insistent presence, drawing me toward something bright in the dark of moonless-ness. The muted crunch of teeny pebbles reverberates almost silently as I step with the awkward intensity of absolute desire not to fill my shoes with gritty sand before giving into the inevitable and removing the barrier between my naked foot and the gentle give of the shoreline.


I forgot about the ocean’s power over me, incessant in its pull, waves demanding my attention as they pound and recede from the sand. About the scrape of sediment as it pushes between my toes and over the top of my foot, kicking up the back of my leg and forward, redistributing itself in barely visible sprinkles. About the chill that makes me inhale quickly, even if it’s only my feet that touch the water.


It’s easy to forget when I’ve been away, when I’ve allowed the last 10 years of my life to take precedence over the first 20, when I’ve lost the strain of myself that used to give into the ocean constantly—that person I was before I became who I am. The one who fought through adolescent reveries and love and loss and confusion to trudge through a decade of pathways. The one who used to feel the ocean inside her blood as she stood and stared; the salt and wind would wrap her up, enveloping her in a sea of comfort that separated her from the longing or anger or angst that drove her to the shoreline for counseling.


It’s easy to forget that when I left those coastal California counseling sessions, I used to be fearless. Fierce and determined to trail no one, to start fresh, to lay down the bricks that would build me a new path, to face my fears head on, to wrangle the unknown and force it to be what it was and not what I wanted it to be. To force myself to be who I was and not who I or anyone else thought I should be.

Sunset perspective

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Bronze shades of last light calm my fluttering eyelids.

Hues of red push through me,

Barreling past the locked iron that protects my subconscious.

Light breezes pulsate off the ocean.

Caressing my skin, they brush layers of salty mist across my face.

That wind brings goosebumps in its wake,

And they stretch along my follicles as memories creep up my legs

Like the purple and pink crabs that scrape and scuttle into the deepest crevasses of rock I trespass along.

They eye me from the shadows,

and watch my pulse change—

Depending on which piece of my past makes its way to the top of my forehead.

I ruminate,

And watch as the coarse sand I’m sitting on gradually becomes the rock tide pools are made of.

Stretching past my toes, the surf-inundated stone melts into an ocean

That begs me to throw away the pennies I’ve collected from my life.

It’s a rough surface that beckons me to cast my past

Into the calm golden water that waits for the tide to come in,

Into the Safari orange sky that fades into the pinks and dark blues of coming night,

In between the tree shadows that give shape to the ridgeline above Avila Beach,

Into the waiting mouth of ugly brown pelicans, which stalk northbound schools of fish.

But I can’t bring myself to let loose of my change—

I can’t just throw them away into the soup of someone else’s time,

Rampantly give away my visions to the catch-all of the world;

A world that boils full of bare-boned carcasses, broken hearts, empty memories, and slimy fish.

It would leave me too empty,

Freeing up a hole I now knowingly fill with the past,

It would leave me without my dear, close-up view of what I had,

What I wanted,

What I thought I needed.

I can’t just release memory-stamped pictographs and voices into the unknown.

But I can leave them where I sit,

I can scoop them out,

Throw them to the ground,

Mix them with the broken shells and smooth pebbles beneath my feet and know:

Next time I come they will be here

Waiting with the sun.

Relishing fantasy

It is a mirage.
An image,
Mirrored present.
We’ve somehow forced it,
Squeezed it onto a future that isn’t yet.
Hurry past today
Into a vision of tomorrow.
We forget—
Without the experience of yesterday:
The wisdom of life is lost.
The love of a moment is gone.
And we get stuck staring,
Peering out at a future
We may never get to see,
As we hope to get through
Another day.