growinghumans


Between the Salt Water and the Sea Strand
July 15, 2016, 2:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

As I sit in my childhood home, surrounded by everything that I grew up, I feel a bit like a ghost. There was a time in my life where this town, this house, was what I was made up of. Salt water ran through my veins. I was a wild thing and surrounded myself with other wild things.

We would slink down the dark streets at night, high on the salty summer air. It was all consuming. I was a lighthouse, born by the weather and the waves.

Then, I moved to Maine for college. Not the rocky coast of Maine that we would vacation at every summer; not the place where the fragrant woods met the sea, where mica and moss covered the granite that kept the two lovers apart.

I went to college deep into the state, surrounded by mountains. The winters were brutal and we all waited for the first day where the temperature would rise over 40 degrees to start wearing our sandals and short skirts again.

I stayed in that small college town for 5 years and then headed on to my next home, deep in the south. There I would get married, have a child, buy a house and earn the right to say that “I live here.”

But, after a few months, I start to feel claustrophobic. Mountains are a 4 hour drive in one direction, the sea a 3 hours drive in the other. Both accessible and gorgeous in their rights, but not the same. The landscape of the south isn’t as dramatic as New England. The southern beaches are perfect; soft white sand, warm waters, lots of people. The mountains are the same–full of sleepy hipster towns that could be over run with tourists if they tried a little bit harder. They are escapes that don’t seem to belong in the same state.

I miss the hard landscape. I miss tiptoeing over rocks, broken shells, washed up seaweed before getting to the water and dipping our toes in. There is a wonderful feeling when you place your feet right where the tide washes up. The freezing cold water covers your skin, waking up all of your nerves, it hugs around your ankles, and then grabs a hold of you and tries to drag you back into the water with it. You have to brace, you might sway if you aren’t balanced enough. That feeling, of the ocean trying to pull you in with it and the slick sand giving way beneath your toes, there is no feeling like that.

I romanticize about all of these things as I sit in my house that is placed between cotton fields and tobacco fields. I sit on my front porch at night and the thickness of the air presses at my face. There are no scents, there are no sounds, there is just me sitting in a chair wishing I was home.

But then, I come back home. I sleep in my old bedroom; me in one twin bed, my husband in the other. My parents blanket us with attention and love. I watch my daughter and my niece play in the grass, jump in the pool shrieking like small versions of my sister and I when we were growing up in a New England summer.

I drove down to the beach early this morning, careful to not get out of my car since I no longer have a resident sticker. I rolled down my windows and took a deep breath. It was low tide and the sulfuric stench made me recoil. Surely it never smelled that bad when I lived here.

I sit in my house, my family house, and watch as my parents get progressively older. I see them line up their medications on the kitchen counter each morning and night. I don’t know what the medications are or what they are for. I should know these things, but it doesn’t feel like my place to ask.

I go to the grocery store and go to pay at check out, “Do you have a member’s card?” the cashier asks me. “Oh. No. I used to live here. I live in North Carolina now. My dad has a card, though.”

Just, “No” would have been fine. I felt the need to give an excuse on why I appeared to be an outsider, but no no no I am not a tourist I am from here this place is in me I can feel it every day.

But, can I?

I grew up here and that will never change but the longer I stay away, the more this place fades from me.

Very little has changed here. This house has stayed the same. My bedroom is still exactly the same. But, as I drift from one room to the next, I feel like the spirit of a girl who used to live by the sea but lives somewhere very far away now.

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