Shoreline says…

Shoreline is the in-between place. The place that is just before and just after and exactly where earth overlaps water. Shoreline is wild and serene. It is the place I go to grieve and the place I go in joy. It is a place that soothes despair and washes aways frustration and anger. Shoreline replenishes energy, bathes the non-physical body, and draws time into the present. It is a place that offers endless what-ifs and constant magic. 

When I visit shoreline, shoreline says stay in a way that holds no obligations. There is no guilt in this invitation, only comfort. 

Shoreline speaks serenity when the water is calm, and carries the gentlest caress in on 1/4 inch waves. If it were not for the giant logs, stumps, and boulders high up on the beach, it would be easy to believe that this gentle serenity was the extent of  what shoreline has to say. 

But shoreline can speak anger too. Shoreline can sting in the cold and hurling spray, can beat you with winds and erode rock and clay with mountains of water. Shoreline can be wilder than your dreams, can make you realize how fragile the skin is that creates it’s own sort of shoreline between your blood and the sea. Shoreline is home to birth and decomposition in the same few inches like any habitat. Shoreline speaks in rocks and shells, in sea worn bodies and the feathers of birds. Shoreline is the meeting point for thousands of years and thousands of miles in the span of a multifaceted and multicolored grey footprint. Shoreline washes stories in from far across the sea and deposits them into my ears with the wet breath of a kiss. 

When I visit shoreline, I remember about light and weather. My skin, sheltered and pale from the forest, breathes in the wild oxygen that runs with the water. I spend hours gazing at the place where water rises and runs over land. The way it takes on the color of the sky, of it’s depths, and the texture of rain. I am mesmerized by the siren song of clear water, when you can see each tiny pebble that lies beneath it. Hearing that call, I think of dear friends who heed it with so much exuberance that they’ve almost drowned me in childhood attempts at inclusion. I think of their deep love for deep water, the way they are at home when their whole body is buoyed by waves, and they become a part of the world of water with just as much ease as the word of land. I think of them and think I could never be so brave. 

I am always watching that silver edge, wondering if it will lift like a blanket if I believe hard enough. The way I want to enter a world of water is the way that people pass up loves by saying maybe in another place and another time, but just now it’s not meant to be. When I swim in water with more than human inhabitants, I am acutely aware of my body’s dissonance to the environment. Where some sort of paddle is necessary to move, I have tiny feet and tiny hands. Where a united tail is asked to curve like the waves, I have two separate legs who, while strong and supple, never seem to make much headway. Where blubber and thick skin is needed to keep muscle apart from barnacles and hypothermia, what fat and thin skin I do have is never tough enough. My eyes are no match for silt, salt, and sand, and my lungs no match for the pressure of more than a few feet. It feels disrespectful to the inhabitants of sea and river to splash into their homes, unequipped for life in their waters. No, I think, I prefer solid ground under my feet, and the ability to see my toes without bending down to meet them. 

Shoreline says both land and water, and I made one of my best childhood friends in that in between place. I don’t remember how we met exactly, but I like to think that it was love at first sight. Whether they were washing up on the beach, clinging to rocks, or baking like popcorn in the sun, there is not a time when I can remember not being drawn to the golden green fingers of Fucus vesiculosus. I love the mingled fascination and disgust when introducing them to human friends, and the fairy godmother like properties that they hold for our skin barriers. They are soothing, and silly, and slimy, and entirely magical to boot.

When I walk on shoreline as an adult, I nod to those round, ragged tendrils. Seeing them, I know that I am not alone. 

Today as I walked between land and water, I reached for rocks that glowed in the light of one-days. I picked up rocks for people I have not met yet, and for things that haven’t happened, and placed them in my pockets until they stretched the wool of my jacket. 

Here, shoreline slopes in the gentle gradient of a kiddy pool, inviting you to pick your depth. There, perhaps, shoreline offers river rocks for basking or feet dangling. Shoreline can be rough too, dramatically sweeping up from deep sea to tall cliff with no in between. As with all barriers and in between places, shoreline is not one rule fits all. But, no matter who you are or where you are, shoreline still says an invitation. It is one of the places I find maybes, the place I exchange stories and rocks for trash removal in an endless dance of abundant reciprocity. Shoreline is a place that pushes my edges against it’s edges and forces us both to grow. It is a place that offers peace, allows me to bask in the comfort of feet-on-the-ground while still coexisting with water. Shoreline reminds me about horizon line, about the edge of the world and about endings and beginnings. Shoreline is an ally, the guard who stretches in a continuous line around my home. (And sometimes, a jailer who offers freedom). 

Shoreline is the place to go when I don’t know what to do. When the weight of living is too much to bear. When I feel ecstatic joy and achy, toe stubbing anger, shoreline is always there.

Shoreline speaks in rock and water, in great sculptures of erosion, in slimy water weeds, in decomposing bodies and the downy feathers of new life. Shoreline offers a story, a kiss, a model of coexistence. When you stand in that in-between place and listen, shoreline says welcome. Stay, if you wish. There is a place for you here, there is always tomorrow, there is always more room for hope. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by

%d bloggers like this: