The edge of the world, revisited

The woman two doors down stopped on the way back from the ice machine to check on me as I fumbled with the rusty lock of my door.  You all right, hon, she said, in the gentle voice that strangers use when they want you to know they mean no harm.  I told her that I was, in fact, all right.  She gestured toward the last lingering rays of sunset.  It don’t get better than this, am I right, she asked.  I assured her that I agreed.  She bid me good night and walked on by just as I got the door open.  

The room afforded about as much space in one square as my rectangular tiny house, though with substantially fewer electric outlets.  I laughed, remembering the absurd argument with my carpenter over why on earth one short crippled woman needed outlets every six feet.  I had to throw my meagre weight around to get USB ports in three of them.  

This place has a decent walk-in tiled shower and something my house lacks, a flush toilet.  My composting toilet spares me having to deal with a black water line but  poses other challenges.  Here everything seems new and well-maintained, better than I remembered from a prior visit.  It will suffice for the next forty hours.  I don’t even mind that the restaurant closes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, something I had never had reason to know.  

I stay here almost exclusively for the soothing voice of the Pacific.  Her song comes to me over the noise of a neighboring television and the occasional slamming car door.  I didn’t have to come west after my six-month oncology check-up.  I could have driven home in rush hour.  I could go home tomorrow.  But I didn’t and I won’t.  Instead, I will spend two nights here sandwiching a delicious, beautiful day at the edge of the world.  My soul has already eased into neutral.  A kind of quiet has overtaken me.  I realize that I have been inland too long, too many days between sojourns at the sea.  My seven-day workweek has kept me from this respite.  

But I will not think of that now.  I sat on the hood of my car, feet on a rock, and watched the sunset.  A vanload of travelers climbed the sea wall beside me.  One of them, a young woman, lifted her open hands to the heavens.  Seagulls and pelicans skimmed the rippling waves.  A middle-aged couple wrapped their arms around each other.  As the golden orb slowly sank into the ocean, we released our breath as one.  Tension rose from our bodies and drifted toward the horizon.  The whole lot of us stood in the parking lot.  No one spoke.  Only the song of the sea broke the silence.

It’s the eighteenth day of the one-hundred and twenty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Sea Longing

A thousand miles beyond this sun-steeped wall
Somewhere the waves creep cool along the sand,
The ebbing tide forsakes the listless land
With the old murmur, long and musical;
The windy waves mount up and curve and fall,
And round the rocks the foam blows up like snow,—
Tho’ I am inland far, I hear and know,
For I was born the sea’s eternal thrall.
I would that I were there and over me
The cold insistence of the tide would roll,
Quenching this burning thing men call the soul,—
Then with the ebbing I should drift and be
Less than the smallest shell along the shoal,
Less than the sea-gulls calling to the sea.

— Sara Teasdale



One thought on “The edge of the world, revisited

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *