Awoke to island rain, a soaker you’d call it on the prairies. We hugged in the honeyed light of a kitchen made gritty with the sand of our adventures, and then we drove away from the tall, green house by the river, away into the darkened landscape of a place I’d forgotten how much I love.
Even when my head won’t stop, my heart does, there by the ocean. The dune grass whispering secrets, a lighthouse long asleep, the cries of sea gulls, bare feet in toasty sand—so much sand for miles. Collecting periwinkles and claws, sea glass and driftwood. Climbing the tiers of sandstone to steal a closer look at an eagle, only for it to wing away over the waves and plunge for fish. Wading through warm tide pools. A single, exquisite sand dollar. Bubbly water rushing and retreating, rushing and retreating through the jumbled puzzle pieces of rust-red rock. Nosing over clam shells with my toe to see if the tops are pearly or dull. Cradling a glistening, quivering bowl of purple jellyfish. Fishing for bass beneath the unwavering North Star. Strolling at water’s edge when all that expanse is draped in pink lace, the horizon lost to corn-flower blue, can’t look away, don’t want to turn back, it’s never been so beautiful. And then that very brave moment when you leave behind the familiar and dive into the cold, marbled green of a totally other world, explore the fringe where you imagine you are safe, only crimson lobsters and pale crabs for company. Sunlight glittering above, peach-colored ridges endlessly undulating below. Dare to cross over the sandbar and feel, for a moment, the magnitude of the Atlantic—of every ocean—in the emptiness beneath your feet. You are so small. And so free.
How do you love two places at once? Well, my island boy said, you love a third place even more. But sometimes it’s just really hard waiting for Heaven.