I can smell it before clouds roll in, giant and gray and folded over themselves, pushing across the Atlantic.
The tingling freshness stirs on a wind shifting from an errant point in the atmosphere, pressing in to collapse the shore.
It’s already been an unsteady day. Sharp chill of morning holding to a high of 54. The beach deserted, except for the sporadic vacationers bold or dumb enough to strip to their suits and splash into the ocean, hold their breath and clattering teeth before rushing back to the safety of their towels.
My family tries our bravery against the cool sun, running through the sand for a few, windswept games of spikeball, but soon enough my brothers claim their dissatisfaction with the day and slip up the wooden steps leading from the beach to the pool, blocked by gates and hotel to stop the wind and store the only heat of the day. We’d already been here two days and the ocean hasn’t changed, they reason. Mom follows, Dad already back in the room for his midday nap.
But I stay by the sand, compelled by the waves, hint of storm, and unnamed silence soft on my heart.
I always felt I was born with the sea under my skin, that my eyes filled with deep harbor blue and shifted in the light like an early evening tide. From a quiet town in Wisconsin, we have the blessing of Lake Michigan, which quenched my heart enough. But to stare at the untamed majesty of the ocean was a different dream entirely.
Sand sits rough and uneven beneath me. I shift my weight, digging the towel into the belly of the beach. Waves tumble across the sheen of glass covering the water, all sparkle and spitfire. Only a handful of people are scattered about, walking, sitting against the wind or lounging on the confines of their balconies, safe from the chill.I always felt I was born with the sea under my skin, that my eyes filled with deep harbor blue.… Click To Tweet
One full, slow breath catches inside my lungs, rising, finding its escape out the crack of my lips. My eyes fall to half lids, tying the teals of sky and sea together. To the right, a man sits reading next to a stack of beach chairs and boogie boards, part of the hotel. For ten bucks you can rent one for the day. Earlier that morning, I had watched him lazily untie the bundles and arrange the sign advertising their availability just below the steps leading from the lobby. His baseball cap hides his face, but his sunglasses glare in the sun while he chats with guests that wander by. Here he sits, job to hand out beach chairs to hotel guests, which I’m sure gives him plenty of time to ride the waves off hours. But the point of this sun-streaked blonde man with crooked smile and grizzled beard is that he is sure of what he does. He has made the choice to be happy, to be simple, and smell the scent of sea day in and day out while lingering in the folds of this sleepy beach.
I’m jealous of his certainty. I am surrounded by sand and family, but swept in solitude within. There is a life I’m meant to lead. Beyond what my hands can hold. In the distance, desperately swimming through space and stars to find me. Somewhere in the echoes of time, its voice is sweet and unafraid. If it knew how I stood waiting, bouncing on the tip of my toes, straining my eyes into the blue for first sign of arrival, perhaps its speed would quicken, burst forward to launch itself into my soul.
My shirt smells like sweat and salt and sea. It rustles in the wind, which is alive and sharp. Rain begins to quiver the waves, seagulls squawk their distaste at this wet intrusion. I roll myself off and push up from my towel, lift a corner and give a shake before draping it over my arm. One last look to the water in its swirl of moss and charcoal cohabitation. The waves are relentless. The ocean is a terrible beauty, which only makes my heart desire more within its own torrent.
Lines of rest between the rain. My breath exhales, clear, fresh.
Soul resting full in wait.