The radio plays a slide guitar song. The grit is gone. They took the bends out of each note and replaced teeth with cherry bubble gum. I prefer the early kind of music, the one that is primitive and natural like taking a breath. I'm not saying there is a call to arms when listening to music that isn't this way — I just happen to long for the groans, the aches and the belly butterflies that occur when hearing imperfections scratch and claw at the heartbeat that is folk or rural music. I want to feel the mountains and sea in my step even when I cannot look to a window and see them standing there. It was in this spirit, I took to walking across the pebbles and seashells of Qualicum Beach. I was here to listen to sea waves roll in and out like a song telling me that the world had hardship, but it also had hands to hold, the world had shadow, but it also had sunlight.
Here I am, walking with my yellow rain boots across the sand. I don't remember every thought I had as I chased my dogs into the water. I only remember how it felt, which is usually a trustworthy guide for how good a time was. The conversations blur, the surrounding noise blends, the tastes are forgotten, but the feeling remains and if you're anything like me, your greatest burden will be your desperate need to find ways to return to these memories, to make them new, even when the trip has ended and suitcases have returned to their rightful place below the stairs. It puzzles me how I could ever use the word boring to describe a day when the world has seas, mountains and people in it. I imagine it's because these joyous things aren't always within my reach.
When night fell, I watched the stars with C and my dad. Although it shook me in ways only a night sky could, I felt humbled and stood in merriment knowing I was still my crooked little self, and it was okay for me to be this crooked little self, because life is a short gravel road and we're always running out of sand. The tide goes in, the tide goes out, and there will be a time when the tide goes out for the very last time, so how could I bare living if I rose every day to a mirror that said "you should hate yourself." The stars looked at me, I looked at them, planes dropped flares in the shimmery distance, lighthouses told boats which way they must travel, it was like watching an old movie, but the movie was my life and the sea rode on beside it.
Nostalgia sets in.
I don't want to lose the magic that sits on my retinas when I look at my loved ones or with sights such as these. I could never grow tired of seagulls and kingfishers dropping shells from the sky for their supper or playing "I spy the seal in the water." When I am standing here, I learn to forget my troubles because they are not what makes the waves roll in and out. I am who I am and I'll be damned if that's not worthy of some joy. After all, why does the sun still rise after bouts of crying? Why does the sea make our hair curl? Why does the moon spook us as it glistens on the water? Why is it that we're here and not there? We don't always have the answers and it has taken me plenty of trying and heartache to realize that we don't always need them either. Some things in life just are. I'm looking at you, mirror. I'm looking at you, heartbeat and hometown.
I needed this trip, I think we all do. I don't know how healthy it is to stay cooped up in the home and forget the natural world is out there, waiting for us to listen to it. I learn a lot when I change my surroundings, even if it is for only a week. I ate fish tacos and oysters as the sun set on the water, I stood next to my favorite people and watched their eyes squint and reflect the joy that comes with being ocean people who are ocean bound. Here's to you, seaside. May I always remember the way you remove the word boring from my vocabulary and replace it with fortunate.