Sun, in her abundance, poured light deep into the apparently endless water, scattered heaping handfuls across the surface, and allowed the leftovers to melt, dripping over the sky and into the sand. This was not Lake Michigan, but the Atlantic Ocean. That’s a lot of light. Heat was heavily present already, at 9 a.m. I mindfully embraced the warmth as affection, barring the perception of oppressive uncomfortability that I normally receive high temperatures with. I stepped through thin slips of water, into soaked yielding sand, around golden clumps of seaweed that my sisters and I had been dodging in the water the day before, tossing it on Rachel so she could have “mermaid hair.” My thoughts were lapping and overlapping, belying a less than disciplined mind, a mind cradled fondly nonetheless.
I thought about the impromptu speech made the night before at the wedding of a dear friend. She is the one that brought me here, that instigated my spending more time in South Florida than I ever have in all my years living in the center of this state. I hadn’t planned to say anything and wasn’t expected to, but how could I not? She has consistently, insistently loved me and allowed me to participate in her struggles and triumphs for nearly two decades. The words I selected weren’t too shabby; they also weren’t enough. I mulled over amendments while moving through dense, salt-infused air, occasionally distracted by refracted light, so sharp, such a contrast to the immensely soft, mammoth clouds that floated by, flat bottomed and erupting from above. Words never can be enough to sum up a life, let alone the melding of two lives and all the interlocking lives influenced by their connection. Words can never be enough, but I am compelled to forever work at crafting them, and risk exposing them.
I thought about the expansive beauty, the majesty really, of the ocean and how in it’s vastness, it envelopes the nuances of the world; sparking wildly during dazzling day, melancholy and absorbing in moonlit night. Tumultuous and roiling, placid and absorbing, expressive and secretive; the sea is everything at all times, yet we receive only a little, one moment at a time. I admire the ocean and appreciate its expansive yet intimate embrace, though I don’t feel a belonging to it as I’ve heard some articulate. Nor do I feel that sense of belonging to a city that winks and sparkles with light generated from more mutable sources. My ego finds her cradle amidst the trees, in earthy depths, mounded into mountains. But there is neither one nor the other that offers completion. All are part of the whole.
My attention was drawn to a shell, bleached white, porous. A shell? No, I think not, but I haven’t the knowledge to identify it confidently. Fossilized coral, perhaps? Honeycomb from the ocean, an abandoned nest of sea-bees. It is astounding, the mirror world that exists below the surface, so alien and yet we belong to one another. I began to watch the sand more than the sea and scooped up a couple more curiosities. Studying the articulate veins of a creamy crimped shell, I arrived back where I had started. Standing on a mound of seaweed, directly in my path was an incongruous couple: a black pigeon and a white seagull. The pigeon’s presence startled me. What are you doing here? I asked. They both just stared. Representatives of my two lives, I surmised. And wouldn’t you know it, just as the thought made itself known, the seagull walked several feet away and then turned to look back at me from the distance. The pigeon remained, unmoving except to blink his blank, orange eyes.