Have I any unique words to describe the sense of peace which I feel as I descend the coast on the Cabrillo HIghway? The ocean sits now to my right, now in front of me as I journey south from the city. I pay no heed to the signs alerting me to the monitoring radar. My foot sinks the pedal lower.
I pass Pacifica, Montara, Half Moon Bay. I run out of towns and start to count state beaches: Gregorio, Pomponio, Bean Hollow. A white van cuts over to the Pescadero turn-off and I slow, briefly, resuming speed as I crest the hill. I move into the slow lane in anticipation of what I know will soon rise from the shimmering sea. I flinch only slightly as a Subaru whips past.
My breathing quickens; the water spreads to fully west now, and the road no longer turns. I spare a glance for the 84 junction. My first shocked sight of this horizon came at this intersection, three years ago last March after a grueling ride from La Honda. Traffic stalled for an hour behind an accident which claimed at least one life. A state trooper walked the length of cars backed clear down the mountain, asking for our patience and our prayers. When my turn came, I drove around the debris as slow as humanly possible, crossing myself to a God whom I had long since assumed to have forsaken me.
I shake those images from my mind and tense my hand on the steering wheel. Then I see it: the lighthouse, towering against the misty sky. And always, ever, its vastness suggesting infinity, the sea crashing against the unprotected shore. I see the Subaru has beaten me to this place and sits on the roadway. I understand the driver’s impatience but think, with a brief smile, that he might not understand the enduring magic of my Pacific.
Once I have taken possession of my passkey, sheets, and towel, I lead the good Michael and a random helpful guest to my car. I have yet to come here that Michael didn’t help me; that a stray man or woman didn’t offer their assistance. I do not like to say that I expect it, but I admit that I experience no surprise. The universe welcomes me; what right have I to question its provisions?
I dump my belongings in Room 3, moving the reserved sign to the bed by the window. Then I find myself, as I always find myself, raising my feeble lens to capture the first look. The sun shines full on my face. I know that this picture will be blurred. I don’t care. The first look, like the first pull of cold soda from a newly opened bottle, must have its due. And I must have the nourishment which comes in that first moment when I stand on the edge of the world, shaking the city dust from my shoes, receiving the kiss of salty air.
It’s the fourteenth day of the fifty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
“Once, by the Pacific”
The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God’s last “Put out the light” was spoken.