By the sea

My best moments and memories of being deeply connected with people who are important to me involve the sea. Given my habit of living near cold water, it’s usually a case of walking by the sea instead of being in it, with a few exceptions like Bonaire.

There’s something about the environment, the waves, the wide open space that brings a sense of freedom and openness. Somewhere that I can either talk about the things I am feeling, challenges I am facing, listening to someone I love or just being in the moment and discovering all of the things that are thrown up on the shore to admire and wonder.

I was walking along the North Sea today with Henry and George, letting the wind clear my head and turn my ever unruly hairstyle into something even wilder, when I started thinking about other walks in the past. I thought back to the first time my mom, Raven and I took a trip to the Pacific coast of Washington state. We spend the weekend at Kalaloch, in the cabins perched up on the bluff.

No one knew really what to expect of that trip. It was the first time the three of us traveled together and we were not really a family unit at that time. Henry and George were quite a bit younger then and still chased balls on the beach. My mom had no patience with slow walkers and wasn’t about to wait for a somewhat surly 9 year old (Raven) and her daughter, who pretty much knew a whole lot about some things and almost nothing about being a parent.

But the beach was our common ground, somewhere where we all felt at peace. I remember that there was a fish that washed up on the shore, still alive but somehow stuck. Raven was fascinated but not going to get to close to it. My mom reached down and picked it up and threw it far back into the water without even hesitating. It needed to be done. Raven was a mix of shocked (because girls didn’t do that kind of brave thing and my mom was still a girl in his category system) and more than a little impressed by her bravery.

My mom, knowing more than a little about being a parent, acted very nonchalantly as if it was something she did everyday, wrestling mysterious creatures from the deep and returning them to their rightful place. Looking back, there are two very clear things in that moment – my mom’s deep love for animals and her sense of taking immediate action.

While I was thinking about that day, I suddenly noticed that I could really hear the waves. They had stopped being background noise and really sounded like proper waves. In case you are wondering, there’s a difference between the waves of the North Sea and those of the Pacific Ocean – namely size and volume. But today, their sound was the same in that moment. I hope that was a sign that all of the invisible signals that connect us to those we love are working properly, even if we don’t always notice them.

We are here until Monday morning and I plan to spend a lot more time walking along the North Sea, listening and being listened to.

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