Assateague Island National Seashore, VA
Fort Funston, San Francisco
Tuesday the waves caught us by surprise, bathed us, shoes and all. The warmth of the Pacific surprised me. The dark sand. The rush of the incoming tide. High cliffs. I was with family and we laughed at our lesson of not running fast enough to stay dry. By Saturday, I was on the other coast, and in the morning walked into the Atlantic intentionally, shoes and socks removed. The water was freezing and the sand, white, clinging to my feet. This is my life, torn between two coasts, attracted by both, dramatic opposites. The beauty of each place undeniable. The West Coasts holds family, the East Coast, a built life. The travel between the two becomes more and more difficult. What changes? Landscape? Relationships? I board the plane traveling each way with notebooks and books, name intentions for arrivals, distancing from the departures. I think this is what the modern family looks and feels like, joyous greetings and sad departures. Sometimes when leaving I sob as if there has been a death in the family, especially traveling East when I leave a handful of children and grandchildren and Vinny, the dog. This time armed with Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry by Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison, Copper Canyon Press and Permanent Vacation: Twenty Writers on Work and life on Our National Parks edited by Kim Wyatt & Erin Bechto, Boni Fide Books, I begin my realignment, my adjusting to losses, my rethinking relationships and my life. At the tip of memory’s / great funnel cloud / is the nib of a pen. I make notes, to do lists for when I return. I arrive on the other coast welcomed and transformed, ready to wade in the water.