I’ve lived in the same small coastal Florida town my entire life. Sometimes this makes me nervous, restless. I worry that I should be moving to the mountains in North Carolina or braving the winters on the Colorado plains.
But there are days that I head east. I head east to the bridge over the river. The views are at the top. Look north or south, and see the Intracoastal waterway. The banks are lined with ancient oaks and dotted with waterfront homes of grandeur. The river used to be clear; old-timers tell us that you could see the white sand on the bottom and schools of brightly-colored fish. Now the water is a murky grayish-brown. You cannot see the bottom; you can’t even catch a fish anymore (not that you should eat anything out of this river). Our paradisaical waterway is now a cesspool of toxic sludge, a wasteland of Rockefeller dreams. Yet, somehow, the river is still beautiful to look at, especially from the top of the bridge.
The views are at the top. Look west and you can see thick clusters of dark green; how lucky we are to have all those trees! All those trees are for sale, soon to be laid to rest to make way for bright & shiny strip malls that will quickly become dirty & desolate. But right now, the view to the west is old Florida oaks. They were here before us, and they will be back once we are gone.
The views are at the top. Look east to see the seas; the ocean spreads beyond your line of vision, blues and greens. As a child, I could hear the gentle roar from my bedroom window as I lay awake, restless to roam the sandy streets. When I have felt close to breaking, close to my limit, with nowhere to turn, the ocean has been there for me. I’ll wade in fully-clothed, despite the water’s cold, and dunk my head beneath the powerful waves. I’ll let a few sets crash overhead and then work my way back to shore. I’m ankle-deep in sand, sopping wet and weighed down by the heaviness of my clothes and my heart. But that plunge into the endless & relentless ocean restores enough in me to keep going. Where I am going, I still don’t know. But in that moment, this place feels like home.
When I feel restless, I head east. The views are at the top.