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  • perhaps being born in a landlocked, midwestern state provided us with this mysticism about the ocean. scattered, rare vacations to the eastern coast populate all of our memories like sunbursts - long car ride, sweaty legs in the backseat, laying plaid, scratchy blankets down on the station wagon seats for naps as we rambled through georgian highways. audiences of stuffed cats, plastic dolls tucked into seat cushion cracks. getting to the salty coastal towns was transformative, everything hot and breezy and wood-washed and smelling like dolphins.

    even the midwestern lakes...erie, michigan...held something of deep meaning for us - beyond your standard, casual human appreciation for a shoreline and into something more haunting. our father loves lake erie. ramshackle little towns hug the edge, power-plant fences crumble into its waves, tiny 1950s homes stand on yellow grass in the cleveland summer with folding chairs and beer cans. abandoned carnivals. factory streets. kids with buzz cuts wheeling arcs down the july streets. he loves that lake as if it is the mighty sea. that must have influenced us too. knowing that and then sensing the unusual joy, the relief on those beach trips to the real ocean. his tranquility. i've seen him stand at any water's edge with that detached glory, exhaling into it ahhhhh like he was drinking a cold beer.

    i was near the pacific on a recent sunday and poked along reefs and crab homes and the jagged, blustering, aching coastline that is california. those birds like jackals at congress perched out past the waves on some ageless land mass, some cliff dwelling. nothing is just what it is for the water mystified. the air sounds different and the ground smells different. everything seems epic, everything seems a thousand years old, everything seems unknown.

    there is the most common sighting - drenched seaweed strewn across the reef. I can see immediately, as I once would have, that it is actually mermaid maiden hair... lost from some deep sea goddess, lodged in the reef crevice, waving and flicking in the tiny pools of water. so mournful! so exotic! a truer interpretation from an water-haunted soul was never made. all secrets are possibilities at the water's edge.
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