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.
I don’t have the brain at the moment, but I’ve seen talk of Moana fan fic about the Grandmother having had the chance Moana did to go sail and couldn’t or didn’t take it, for whatever reason. I should go find it, if done well I think it could be an amazing story.