"Perhaps the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living: simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of the relationship is valid." - Gift from The Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I do not think it's a mistake I live by the sea. I live by the sea for the same reason I have 'beauty and terror' tattooed on my forearm. Because I need the most stark reminders of the ebbs and flows. Because, as my friend Kate once said, when someone asked her to describe me, "her rainbow is very bright." I do not experience things subtly, on the surface, from afar. I run right along the nerve of things - like maybe I was born without some protective layer - and now that I'm not numbing that space with alcohol, there is nothing between me and the hot, burning brightness of my own spectrum.
I got the tattoo when my husband moved out of our house over two years ago in July. I got it because I'd had those words lolling around in my head for so long at that point, and because he hadn't understood them or why I'd want to put them on my body. It was an act of solidarity to myself and a prayer to the universe. I went right from the tattoo place to the bar across the street - all before noon. I slept with a boy I barely knew that night, and went swimming in the ocean. I had friends visiting from Colorado that weekend. We sat on my porch and drank beers and I had a hollow phantom limb feeling - a ghost limb that would stay with me for much longer than I could have expected.
I have that same phantom limb feeling sometimes now, about drinking. This thing that used to be there, my go-to, my ever-present pal. I feel weird without it sometimes. Exposed and less confident. Too close to my me-ness. Too bright.
But I look out the window and I catch the words on my arm and the light in the room and I close my eyes and hum, hum, hum, it's just another cycle of the tide.