Standing there at the edge of the water, listening to the sound of the ocean, it began to sink into my skin that we had arrived. That we were here. That it was now. That it was more now than it had ever been. That we could turn back now, get on a plane and go back home, but that we would not. That there was so much to see and feel.
The sea was grey-brown. It was not crystal blue. It was not the stuff of fantasy. I knew that the water was polluted. I knew that this shore, like the lake back home, was no longer what it was. That it was here, but its natural state had been all but forgotten. It stood now because it had not yet been overtaken by human hands. Yet the imprint of human presence and human folly were everywhere there. The waves left a dark residue on the sand. The patterns changed each time, but the message was the same each time the water receded. Look what has been left here. Look and see what is beneath the surface. This place has become untouchable.
I couldn’t help these thoughts. I wondered whether the same thoughts crossed Eve’s mind. I looked at her. She was lost somewhere in her own mind. Lost somewhere in the cosmic present which she would tap into sometimes. I watched her connect with the moment and remained there, feet planted in the sand, and tried to connect with her. I was so transfixed by her. She always knew when I was watching. She told me once that whenever my eyes rested upon her, a warmth tingled at the back of her neck. She could feel me. Yet at the same time, she seemed to forget me altogether. In her connecting with the cosmos, I was an observer. I wanted to go there with her. I wanted to go on my own journey. Perhaps I could have, but I could not take my eyes from her, nor my thoughts. I wondered what she was seeing, but I did not want to to steal her visions. I was glad to be there, watching her drift away on her thoughts, knowing that she would awaken from them and see me again.
Seagulls squawked above us. The wind carried the spray of the waves into our faces. Into our hair. I could feel it seeping into our clothes. Just a few hours into this place and we were already being covered in it. The layers were beginning to form. Our old home was sinking deeper into our skin, no longer at the surface. The memories of home sank down, down beneath the first layer of skin, down into our blood stream, where they were carried to our hearts, circulating through our bodies, into our muscles. They would sink deep into us and we would begin to feel differently. The film of the city was beginning to settle upon us.
Eve sat down. Legs crossed, eyes still closed. She pulled my arm and I sat next to her. There was a chill in the air. I would learn of this ocean chill well. As much as the sun was a marker of this place, the humid chill of the ocean is what I would remember. How it seemed to wash the city away even as it served as an unmistakable reminder of what part of the world we were in. I would come to depend on that chill to help me forget, later.
That day, though, there were no memories to forget. There were only ones for remembering. I brushed sand from her cheek. We kissed with the ocean roaring beside us. The sun was hidden. We cuffed our pant legs and let our toes freeze in the cold water.
I thought about all that we had left. I wondered whether she would find the peace she was searching for her. I wondered where we would go next. I wondered how long it could last.
Yes, even then, I knew. I was incredibly light with her. I felt strong and I felt joyous, but I always knew, always felt, somehow, that an ending was in our future. Perhaps it was fear. Perhaps it was just that I could not let go of that part of me that worried.
It tainted us. She would tell me later that she could feel my uncertainty and that it brought her own to light.
We were at the ocean for a long time that first day. We stayed until we absolutely had to decide what to do with ourselves and our small bags and our small beings in this new city.
We walked through the sand back to the sidewalk. Our feet did not take long to dry. We brushed the sand off and put our shoes back on. The sound of cars replaced the roar of the ocean again. We stood looking at the street sign that had mesmerized us before. We stood and once again, looked around and took everything in. The cars, the exhaust, the grey sky, the black asphalt, the concrete sidewalks. We noticed the patches of green here and there. We noticed the flowers. We looked past the chain restaurants and parking lots and saw the smoke stacks. They were still there, smoke still billowing out of them and into the grey-blue sky.
She looked at me and told me to choose a direction. That we would go wherever I chose. Where to go? Where should we have our beginning? The sky was so wide. The road went north and south. I turned and looked each way. And I chose east. It was closer to home. It was closer to our earliest beginning place. And I needed that. I needed to be just that much closer to what was familiar. The need was in my bones, because at that moment I was as happy and loose and free as she was. I was ready for whatever future lay beyond the next sunset. I was ready to be there with her. I was ready to make this city ours. I was ready to learn it, because she was there with me and we could do anything.