I grew up by the sea. Now I live by a lake–a Great Lake in fact. A very fine, impressive lake. But it is not the sea.
Every summer I make a little pilgrimage back to the salt and sand. This year we stayed in a small town in a ramshackle, spooky inn where, we suspected, we were the only guests. We were about a mile from the water but each morning, as soon as I opened my eyes, I felt its presence. The waves were big and wild–cresting, they were glassy, green caves. I got knocked down and pulled under a couple of times, something that hasn’t happened to me since I was small. “Never turn your back on the ocean”–wise advice from my mother (who also grew up by the sea). The sparkle, the gleam, the roar, the hiss! The funny shore birds with their backwards knees, and the dune grasses doing the hula.
It was a long, long drive home through Pennsylvania, where it’s all rolling, lush hills and soft, lacy light, so different. Today, when I go swimming in the city pool, I’ll miss the sea, but by tomorrow, or the day after, most of me will be back here again. It’s a very nice coincidence, as I’m thinking so much about water, that I got to do the following interview for a lovely blog that uses swimming as a metaphor for writing.