The Pacific and I parted ways 17 years ago when we moved away from my native California to Austin, Texas. I've been back to visit the Pacific many times since, of course, but I feel land-locked in Texas, and torn away from something so meaningful to me, that endless and magnificent sea. As a kid I lived in Hermosa Beach where I swam in the ocean nearly every day, bobbing in the waves on my Dad's back when I was very young, then body surfing those waves as I got older. The ocean connected me to the world, cradled me, calmed me. When I swam in the ocean I was swallowed up in the planet, folded in, embraced by it. It was always that way for me when I was in the sea ... it touched me and soothed me like a cool hand on feverish skin.
"I love you," my tender, young self said out loud. "Thank you for giving me so much. I'll miss you."
Yet last week as I stood there ankle deep on that beach in Costa Rica, the years and the distance to my youth on the shores of Hermosa Beach fell away. This was the same ocean in a different country, the same waters that lapped at my feet, the same Pacific I loved, the same old friend. So much time had passed since I swam in the Pacific that last day in Hermosa Beach. But now the 50 years swam together to form what had become my precious life. The ocean was always there, a constant. Just feeling the water on my skin, or even just looking out to sea, I felt my powerful place in the world.