Memory of Her
Something this morning made me get up from my slumber and head back to the place that had haunted me in my dreams. After making a cup of coffee, extra strong to snap open my eyes and mind, I sit down at my computer and search out the simplest way to return to the seaside. How many years has it been then.... since I sat on the beach, felt the salty spray of ocean breeze against my face, and cast my dreams and hopes into the pounding surf. What is this insistent yearning, longing to get back to the beach of my girlhood memories? And why now, when life has come full circle, when the dreams and hopes cast into the sea have come and gone again and again and again, like the waves on that long ago ocean?
I print off the directions and grab some things to take along for the ride, a couple of apples, a book and my laptop to capture my thoughts and keep up with demands of life as I head out on this journey back to childhood. As I slip into the seat of my car, I hesitate and wonder if this is really something I need to do.... after all it was just a dream. But I can't erase the image in my mind... the rocky coast, the sun sending beams of glitter and gold onto the sand and waves, and her.... laughing and splashing in the sea.
We spent so many summer afternoons there together. Young girls- without a care- delighting in each other's joy, the cool water playing at our feet. Birds circling overhead and singing songs to us as we dreamed away our afternoons together. I shake the memories from my mind, start the car, and with a bit of eagerness that I haven't felt in a long time, pull out from the parking spot, and head down the highway to remember more. Surely this isn't just a trip down memory lane...something in that dream grabbed me, heart, soul and mind and insists on my getting myself back to the shore.
I turn on the radio and hope the tunes stop the images and memories from taking over my thoughts. No luck with that. As I drive- as the houses and hills fly past me, all I can see before me is the image of a beach, and her.... long hair blowing in the breeze, her rich and wild laughter hanging in the breeze like seagulls. I wonder what ever did become of my friend. She disappeared from the beach one day, almost as unexpectedly as she appeared. Will I find her there again- will she be older? Will she remember me? Surely time and life have taken their toll on her...look at me. No longer the wide-eyed innocent girl skipping down the beach looking for seashells, creatures and dancing in the waves. Now, a well weathered shell with a bit of music and memory left stranded on the sands of time. Yes, life has taught me to be a bit more proper, restrained, and more cautious of the dangers and pitfalls- like riptides and stingrays and storms.
Yet there is the memory caught in my mind.... as the wheels hum on the highway, I find myself humming along... it comes to me.... the voice, the song from my dream. Her voice, clear as the morning sun bouncing off the waves..... 'come to me, come to me, come to me,.....put down your work..... come back come back.... come to me.....
Is it the change in the air that is making my head clearer,,, the slow desccent from the highlands to the sea? Is my mind simply playing tricks on me? Am I in some sort of altered space- confusion and destiny mixing as one.... what the hell did I eat last night? I stop to stretch, take a long drink of water and clear my head. Is this madness- the last vestiges of my sanity escaping like the passing cars? I grab an apple and take a big bite. The crispy snap and tart juice startle me. This is not a figment of my imagination. This is real, as real as the snap and crunch of the apple against my teeth. The breeze catches my hair, and tossles it about my face. Again I am engulfed in memories of the sea. When the wind whipped our hair and skirts and seaspray stung our lips and eyes. No time to waste now, just a couple more hours, and I will be where my heart is racing towards, as the hum of the traffic sings the song of long ago memories.
Hastily I pitch my apple core into the long grass by the rest stop, and jump back into my car. The snap of the seatbelt sounds like a large wave clapping the dock- I need to hurry now, the beach is calling me louder and more insistently. I pull out without looking back, heading into the early afternoon, anxious to get to the shore. I check the scenery flying by and realize I have left the familiar green of the mountains and sense the oncoming coastline lurking, taunting in the distance.
My heart pounds against my chest, no longer the gentle waves of calm, but the insistent demanding waves of an oncomng storm. My mind wanders again to the shore, how we loved watching the rainbclouds dance over the water, darkening the day and sending brilliant bolts of lightening to light up the gloom. Fascinated by the ferocious onset of slashing wind, rain and pounding sea, we would cling to each other and shout into the wind. Daring it to carry us from our perch on the highest rock. We laughed at the audacity of the weather to challenge our ability to stand strong in the tumult.
I shake my head and wonder, where did that shouting down the storm child go? What became of the girl who's power and confidence taunted the force of nature, and stood strong and firm in her own power? Maybe this is why the sea is calling me back. Maybe I need to find that little girl who sat with me on the beach and created beauty from the broken and bruised remnents of life cast upon the shore. Will she be there.... will she wait for me? WIll I even know her anymore...
I cannot get there fast enough. My heart cannot take this constant slap slap slap of the waves rocking my soul. I am breathless and a bit dazed as I see the signs that will lead me to my dream, my destination. Hmmm. a Starbucks springs up in front of me, and other new signs of life that are not familiar. But as I weave my way towards the shoreline, things begin to look less new, less changed by progress and society. I find a place to pull in along the road, not wanting to park in some public place, so I can wind my way back to the "place" where my heart is leading me. I kick off my shoes, grab my bag, lock my car and scramble up the sand dune.
The warm gritty feel of sand grasps my feet and welcomes me back to this place. I stop and take a long slow breath in. My heart, thumping and pounding begins to slow and calm down. I spend a few long heady moments simpy breathing in and out the sharp. cool saltair. I scan the shoreline, looking for her. Nothing. I look up and down the beach, all is quiet. The sun is slowly moving towards sthe edge of the water. it will be dark soon. I must hurry to find "our place" the rocky nest that sheltered our play, that held us in the storms, and became our home and dreamcasting studio.
I begin to walk along the shore, letting the water lap at my toes. I am caught again in the web of memory. How many mornings we spent scouring the bach for our treasures. For the seaweed and shells, bits of glass and wood to weave our finest jewelery and crowns with. How we would stop to poke the sandcrabs, and make little pools for them to swim in with our footprints. I remember the sandcastles and sand people we crafted for them. The messages we wrote in the sand. Prayers sent to the sea for love, for beauty for joy. Our words swallowed up by the sea, and sent to the source of life in the waters of girlish desires. How we laughed and dared to dream.
I wander further along the beach, tears mixing with seaspray. My heart has settled into my throat. I cannot speak, or swallow. I am looking for the lost friend of my childhood. I am looking for the lost dreams and hopes of a girl who dared to shout into the storm. I am drowning in memories of her. And she is nowhere to be found.
I stumble and find myself kneeling in the sand, waves gently catch me, and help me land softly into the warm sand. And now the tidal wave of tears are unleashed. Torrential waves of tears and sorrow let loose upon the sand. Kneeling, I hug myself and collapse forward into the sea. The water envelops me like a womb, and i rest here as the sobs and shaking subside.
I have no idea how long I lie this way, the soft hum of the sea against my ears lulls me into a cradle of gossamer light and warmth. The sky around me is darker now, stars begin to peak out from their celestial abode. I slowly pull myself back into the present. My clothes are wet and soggy. My face and hands are smeared with sand and salt. I gaze at myself in total surprise. I pull off my soaking clothes and plunge myself into the surf. I swim out into the deep inhaling the smells and scents of the sea. It would be so easy to just let the waves carry me away- to surrender to their power and strength. I lay back and wait.
Something begins to sing- that song from my dream.... 'come to me, come to me, come to me.... put down your worry, come back, come back, come to me'. It's the girl from the beach, her voice is clear as as the evening stars bouncing off the waves. I turn my head to shore. Yes! There she is! She is waving me in. She is calling me. She is singing for me! I turn myself around and swim back to her.
My heart is light, my strokes are strong and powerful. I have found the little girl who used to dance and dream and shout at the storm. She is alive in me once more. How did this happen? Where was she all these years? I have so many questions for her. My strokes are more determined. I must get to her. As I step onto the shore, I rub the water from my face. I feel my smile spreading wide and free. I look for my friend.... I see.... nothing.
I look around, no - no - no! She was here I know it. She called to me. She sang me back from the depths. Why did she leave before I got back? I cannot believe this- I am standing here naked and cold, and confused. This isn't what I expected. This isn't fair.
And then i see my clothes- neatly folded - dry and clean sitting there, amdst the sand and shells and stones. I grab them, they are warm and soft and comforting. As I begin to dress trying to figure out how they came to be there, something else catches my eye. There next to my clothes is a message in the sand. I love you. Come back. Come back to me. You are my beloved in whom I am well pleased.