See the line where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
And no one knows
How far I’ll go…
“How Far I’ll Go,” from Moana, lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Long ago in a galaxy far, far… well, no, it was downtown Palo Alto … over pretty good but not exceptional Vietnamese fusion food, I asked a man I knew, “Are you a mountain person or an ocean person?” In complete seriousness, and without hesitation, he answered “An ocean person. I always know how far away it is.”*
Me, too. I swore many years ago that I would never live anywhere farther away from an ocean than a couple of hours. I will not live where I cannot stand and hear the waves crashing and smell the salt air if I need to. When a job ends, I drive Highway 1, from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz, and I always feel better. If I had my way I would always drive down through Big Sur when going to SoCal. If I am driving out of San Francisco, unless I have to be home quickly, I make my way to the Great Highway, and turn off the music and roll down the windows, even if it is raining. There is no such thing as “beach weather”: all weather is beach weather.
When my life goes to hell in a hand basket, I head for the waves.
I have swum in the Atlantic and the Pacific, I have waded in the Mediterranean. The crystalline Caribbean has my longing heart†, the gentle Gulf — so calm until the black clouds filled with blue-white lightning roll in from over the horizon — my soul.
My love even extends to music. Sometimes, I just need to put my put my head down and listen to the music that reminds me of the sea — almost any sea. I listen to the soundtracks of Moana and Lilo & Stitch and the comforting Wonderful World by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. (Yes, I know I need to expand my stock of Hawaiian and Polynesian music.) I listen to Marley. I listen (cultural appropriation be damned; this was part of my adolescence) to Buffet. And then I head north, to the music of the Maritime: Newfoundland’s Great Big Sea. There are individual songs by artists who otherwise concern themselves with other things: Billy Joel’s “Downeaster Alexa” fills this niche.
When I started this post, I did not intend to write about music. I was going to write about Moana, how I understood her.• I understand looking at that horizon, that line where the ocean meets the sky, and wondering what lies out there. Even though I know, intellectually, where that goes, I want to experience that joy of exploration. Maybe someday I will.
For now, I will have another shore to stand on in a few months. I am going to Barcelona for the first time in May, and I will walk in the waves of the Mediterranean. I have felt that sea on my feet before, but not there. This will be new.
That ocean, like every ocean, calls me. I answer the best I can.
*The love of the sea was not that surprising, since the gentleman in question had (has? I don’t know, I haven’t seen him in years) startlingly blue eyes deep enough to drown in… focus, Pat, focus.
†In order to celebrate its 2017 centennial, the U.S. Virgin Islands are giving away $300 in credits which can be used to help pay for a three night stay on one of the islands. I wish I could go. Someday I should write a post about my trip to St. Croix, and my stay at a funky little hotel that instead of flowers or chocolates left a fifth of rum on your pillow when you checked in.
•I think I understand her grandmother even better — I intend to be, unapologetically, “the village crazy lady” when I get older.