A small peace


When I was 12, I moved from a town full of canals, which was on the bay and not more than 10 or 15 minutes from the ocean.  We moved to a town in Northwest NJ, with many lakes and less than an hour and a half away from the beach I grew up on.  It was during that time in NJ that I realized I'd always be drawn to water, and missed the sun drenched summers I had come to dread as my body changed and sitting around in a bathing suit became a trial of insecurity.  My escape was wandering down to the lake at night when it was quiet, when I needed to be calmed I found what i needed in the water I refused to swim in during the day. I don't swim in still water unless it is a chlorinated pool, and even that kind of grosses me out.  We all have our quirks.

 

The first time I visited somewhere truly landlocked was when I went to Prague for a summer study program in college.  It was my first time being a substantial distance from the ocean.  I spent nearly every night down by the Vltava River, once again calmed by a body of water.  At the same time, I had an inexplicable antsiness.  The word "landlocked" qualified the experience, as in "I am in love with this city, but it is landlocked".  I know, I know, it's ridiculous, spoiled and arrogant, but it was always underneath what was very close to unconditional love (in the same category as not being able to find an after hours laundromat or being able to order pizza to go).  As soon as I got back to Boston, I spent the remaining weekends of summer and fall on the harbor islands and visiting the beaches of Maine. 

 

I visited Las Vegas almost 10 years later and that nagging reticence to embrace a desert city had grown to something more annoying, I couldn't wait for the trip to end and to be home.  Not that I wasn't having fun, I just wanted out of the desert, like right now.  Combined with a phobia of flying, I think some of that fear spilled over and started taking on a life of it's own, however misplaced.  A few months later, when I first visited Denver, combined with the effects of altitude, knowing I was landlocked really chewed on my mind.  I tried not to think of it that way, the word "landlocked" alone conjures up negative feelings.  But, from the moment I got off the plan, I obsessed, fighting off panic and constantly trying to distract from thinking about how far I was from the Pacific or Atlantic.  I know it is ridiculous, and so I tried to keep it at bay (pun unavoidable) and only mention it aloud in offhand ways, and simply planned most trips to places nearer to the coast.  

 

And so now that I've witnessed what my beloved ocean, bay, and rivers can do first hand, I have to admit I'm not quite at peace with it at the moment.  My magnetism to water feels a little polarized, and I'm not so sure I need the shore anymore.  And, while I sort that out, I'm visiting my boyfriend's family in one of those landlocked places that used to cause me so much anxiety.  Out of habit, my brain keeps doing that thing – only when it goes there, I feel uncertain and a different kind of panic starts to set in.  Right now it is calming just to know how far away from water I am.  Does that mean that by tomorrow it won't feel as though my heart is literally drying out and screaming for humidity?  (Yep, it feels that way sometimes, and I don't even like humidity).  Does this mean more inland places are now in consideration to one day consider home?…I have no idea.  Though I am a little confused about pretty much everything at the moment, it feels good to just to have made peace with the desert.