I’m just going to put this out there…
Lakes are not the same as the ocean.
Sorry mom friends, they just aren’t. They don’t smell right, the waves don’t crash and splash with the same awe inspiring wonder and sometimes you can even see the other side of a lake. I have never left a lake only to taste the salty residue of its water on my lips hours later nor have I gazed endlessly into tide pools at the shores of one of our midwestern beauties to marvel at small crustaceans (and I don’t mean zebra mussels) and seaweed fronds.
In some ways, lakes are all wrong to me. Because, I was born on an island, and at heart my soul longs for the smell and the taste and the sound of the Pacific. I miss the ocean with a part of me that just feels lost without it.
Growing up on Maui there were two real choices–all based on the location of the mountain and the ocean. Mauka, towards the ocean and makai, towards the see. Or, to put is a bit differently…you could go upcountry or downcountry or around the island. So, three choices: up; down; around.
When I first moved to the mainland I would find myself hopelessly lost. The roads kept going and going, with nothing to stop them. The maps baffled me with the confusion of four options: north; south; east; west. There seemed to be no center, no point of reference beyond the next building over or the street signs which buzzed past all too quickly as I searched for my destination.
Everything felt strange and nothing familiar. The land and sky baffled rather than rooted and the air itself seemed dry and oddly devoid of scent. No plumeria or salty humidity, no smoky cane fire or manure and branding smoke. It took me a very long time to find any sense of center on this continental landmass–with it’s seemingly unending expanses and oh, the freedom of movement with nothing to stop one from hurtling into the next place and the next.
So, for awhile I hurtled. Just staying in each place long enough to find my way–new anchors of lakes and rivers. To college in one state, with a river flowing through the campus and a pond at the center; then a few years in another state where I learned to check the bacteria levels before going for a Lake Erie dip; then seminary in another, where coastal living along the Atlantic called for late summer ocean dips; and then a return to another, where we celebrated our baby shower in a friend’s lakeside home; and then another move to here–where I have found the mama lake.
Which, I am working to grow accustomed to. Because, these are the waters in which my son will learn to swim. These are the waters in which we will kayak and dive. These are the waters that we will splash in and spew. These are the waters…these are the waters. And, they are not mine, but they will be his.