(Originally written 11-4-16, in Fort Bragg, California)
It’s quiet before dawn, the world illuminated with a tired half-light. I sit beside the window of our hotel room, my husband asleep in the shadows beyond There’s a fire beside me, and the Pacific roars below the cliffs only yards from our balcony.
The sun still slumbers, the air a cold grey, but I can see the white caps of an angry surf. Last night the waves were towers, bridges; arching twenty feet into the sky to crash into the California coast, sending spray rocketing skyward before a sunset of topaz and rose.
This is my sea, rough and steel-blue, dangerous and beckoning. Monsters just below the surface, death and life tangled in a fury of existence.
Yesterday we wondered redwood forests, speaking in hushed whispers as we switch-backed our way up into the high, warm hilltops, scented with incense cedar and leaf litter, the click and laughter of ravens chasing us through the tree tops, the dull roar of the distant sea a constant thunder from below.
Then we drove up Highway 1 to the place we found in the first days of our marriage, where the daisies grow, and we waited on the bluffs while the day ended. Pressed against you in the cold, your jacket wrapped around me. The air was mist-ridden and aglow with the dying sun, the soft color of pearls reflected northward upon the foam laced face of the sea.
Coming back into town, a string of lights illuminate the decay of a quiet past. But these people will be fine, with their ready smiles and weathered skin. With the sea in the veins and redwood boughs tangled in their hair. Through the fog a distant light beckons, “Safely to port, return to our harbor.”
I want to spend the rest of my days here, the sea wind wound it’s way around my heart and calls to it with a heavy sigh, “Return, return, return.” Here the constant storm quiets the one within me and I find the words run clear to the sea, they are not lost in the tangle of the mountain passes and rapids of the rivers.
The fog is thick over the sea now, leaving it an indistinct mass of white water and palest grey, I can barely see beyond the breakers now, the sky whitewashed, scoured of it’s porcelain blue. The mist blows back over the flood tide, filling the very air with a light of it’s own.
What would it be like, to die by the sea. To walk, step by unsteady step into the crushing arms of the surf. To be thrown like a rag doll against the rocks before being torn backward, downward, into the black depths where the sailors sleep. The crushing weight, the frigid cold, the scream of the waves, then silence, heavy, chilling, complete. Monsters and mermaids there to sing you a lullaby, calling you home.
If a prayer today is spoken
Please offer it for me
When the bridge to heaven is broken
And you’re lost on the wild wild sea
Lost on the wild wild sea…
Lyrics by Sting. All photographs taken by me.