I grew up on a beach – if not literally, then very close to. And I spent more of my formative years with my toes in the sand or in the sea than I did anywhere else. In my mind, if I want to remove myself from stressful situations, I simply replay everything I remember about the beach.
I think about the sand, sometimes almost hot enough to burn the soles of my feet. I think about standing in it as the water rushed up and eddied around my ankles then washed away again, leaving me a little deeper than I was before. I remember wading out through the surf and diving beneath incoming waves. I remember building sandcastles and digging tunnels with my cousin. I remember falling in love on a beach. And I remember running scared.
Thinking about all those things now, I don’t remember that there is ice outside my door. I don’t hear the rattling of sleet against the windowpanes. I am right here in the middle of the American midwest in February. It’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit outside. And yet at the same time I’m not here. I am far away – not to mention, far warmer-- living in a totally different physical, mental and emotional landscape.
I’m not in Iowa anymore. I’m on a beach – this time in New York, on Long Island. I’m watching my hero watching my heroine, listening to her laugh. I’ve never been to this beach, but I know it in my mind and in my heart. I have known other beaches. They are part of the landscape out of which I write. They are, perhaps, my metaphor for potential. For me they speak of horizon, possibilities. Hope.
My beaches are not just physical stretches of sand and sea, but mental and emotional places to walk and wade and swim and talk and share – and feel -- as well. Everyone has, if not a beach, an emotional landscape in which they live their lives, places that speak to them, that they ‘go’ when they want to escape the snowstorms (both real and figurative) of their lives.
Anne is, in fact, mentally on a beach on Long Island where it is also late May. She is hoping to stay there until the weather warms up. She hopes the book is done before then, though. It will make her editor happier.
1) By Fanny Schertzer [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
2) http://www.flickr.com/people/jeffgunn/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffgunn/5217055824/) via Wikimedia Commons
3) By Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons