Chicken buses, ferries, planes, trains, vans and golf carts. I’ve done a lot of traveling over the last few months. Mexico to Belize, to Guatemala, back to Belize then back to Mexico. Now, I’ve landed on Long Island, New York, where I was born and raised on the South Shore.
When I come home, which is not quite every year, it gives me pause to marvel at how far I keep going and how wonderful this life is.
Sometimes, I hear the echo of my youth around old haunts. Sometimes I see the ghosts of my past enjoying themselves – they smirk when they see me even though they know so little. The past feels like a lifetime ago. It feels like it belongs to someone else. In a way, it does. My current life is so different from the one that sprouted on the Island.
Long Island has beaches, bays and the nearby ocean. I used to love to go to the Robert Moses State Park and others. The drive over bridges to get to the barrier beach thrilled me when very young.
A favorite picture of me and mom is of us on the boat. We sat on the bow and looked back at dad, who took the picture. I just turned three years old. I felt so free. So happy.
When older, I thought the ferry ride across the Great South Bay was ‘cool’. My family often had dinner at the marina or docks near the water in Babylon or Sayville or some other South Shore town. Or we’d just go to the water to simply see it.
We took vacations on other beaches on the east coast. Sometimes the four of us – mom, dad, my sister and I. More often, it was just my sister and me, sent on the plane down to Florida with grandparents in the St. Petersburg area. We spent a lot of time on Madeira Beach, and other beaches on the gulf.
I used to collect shells. I had a lot of them because I wanted to make something out of them. I got the idea from my grandmother, who made me a jewelry case with shells she collected. She also made gifts for other people out of shells.
I still have that case she made for me, stored away at my sister’s home in California, where I have a few sentimental items tucked away. I don’t have a permanent home now. Collections are hard to carry and I feel at peace leaving shells and coral with Earth.
I enjoy my freedom to wander the earth and live in a place for a little while, and then move on to rent in a new location, a new place to explore and discover. A new jungle or mountain or city. But I’ll always return to my favorite – beaches.
It’s the lull of the waves, rhythmic sounds moving of sand and water, the feel of constant wind hitting my face and messing up my hair, the salty wash smell and a touch of magic and freedom it all gives to me. Free to be me and finally turn off my mind. Free to feel blessings. Feel a part of Earth and the Universe at the ocean. In the ocean. On the ocean. With the ocean. That is where I love most in God’s world.
I pray for strength to carry out God’s will – whatever it may be – when I turn my back to the ocean and face land. When I take buses and planes and trains and cars all these miles to come home. To help my mom with her recovery from a mastectomy, to help my dad get along while mom rests.
And while I’m here at home, at some point I’ll slip away to see the sea.
Photos are courtesy of my dear ole dad 💙