A Sense Of Home

At some point home became a memory, the yellow light of sodium vapor street lamps slogging its way through dense, wet fog. The sound of water beading at the tips of pine needles before tumbling to the sodden earth below. The constant hiss of distant waves crashing over rock and sand before being sucked back into the ocean. When I return now I notice so few of these details. Too busy looking forward to remember to look up the way we would as kids. Up at the twisting gnarled branches of the coastal oaks, at the blue-grey scrub jays squabbling over territories, at the occasional patch of blue sky punched through lumbering clouds.

Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring: were all just dates on calendars. They had no bearing on the weather. I wore flip-flops, shorts, and a sweatshirt. Blood running hot between football, soccer, and track practice. The crunch of the gravel of our old track beneath my feet. The sweet smell of grass and dirt caught between my cleats. The satisfying sip of thin, microwaved hot chocolate, cup warming my hands as I sat on freezing aluminum bleachers watching my friends play baseball. Tiny freeze dried marshmallows dissolving into foamy islands of sugar atop calm brown water before disappearing completely.

I can still smell her. The artificial tropical fruit in the shampoo she used. The way it would smack me in the face as she walked past me in the hall between class. How her laughter sent shivers down my back and shoulders. The excitement, the vibration of anticipation that I’ve never again found in adulthood. My disappointment, that aching knot in my stomach, when I found out she was dating one of my best friends. Some time later, our first kiss. The smooth skin of her arms and waist. Those near invisible downy hairs on her face, the ones she was probably embarrassed about, god, I could have studied them for hours. The salt of the tears I wiped from her cheek, sitting beside her, holding her in the corner of my bathroom where I found her after she’d gone missing from the party. I never found out why.

Every time I get a mouth full of sea water, every time I hear crying gulls, the thick, acrid stink of the rocks they’ve turned white with shit, every barking call between a mother sea lion and her pup, I’m back there. Standing too far from shore on slippery granite as the tide rolls in. Looking out at the gentle curve of the planet's surface, an unbroken blue.