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  • When I was a young child, and I went on trips to the ocean with my family, I thought that I could look out across the waves and see land on the other side. It was very thin, and I could not make out any details; only a slim, dark line running across the margin between the eubellant meeting of sea and sky. I would point to it and call out in excitement, “Look, look at the land across the ocean! It’s another country! Right there!” My mother said that it was impossible to look across the ocean, that what I was seeing was merely more water, very, very far away. I didn’t believe her. The line was too solid, too there; if I squinted, I could almost see the sandy shores and spires of trees rising up from it, and, once or twice, I thought I saw the wavering figure of a human standing on that far away shore and looking out, wondering about me just as I wondered about them. I felt connected to the people of that land, as if in looking out from our own worlds toward each other, we shared something substantial.

    In my hometown, there is one place a person can go to in order to get an absolutely clear view of Mount Hood, the closest mountain to us. It’s not labeled as a viewpoint, nor does it have any signs directing people to it. I discovered it by accident, as I think most people do. It sits on top of the hill, along the same road that passes by the water tower, directly above my friend Jerielle’s house. You drive up the final crest of the hill, and as the trees peel back, you see only empty sky; and then all of a sudden, there’s the mountain opening up before you. You can see it all. Not just the peaks, but the lower, snow-covered base, and the part where the bare gray rock attaches to the lower portion of the thickly grown forest. You can see it completely. There are no buildings or power lines to cut across the view, not even so much as a twig in your way. It’s a straight view across from you to the mountain, and beyond. I like to drive up there on clear days, when the mountain astounds me with its icy clarity. Even on cloudy ones, it’s still beautiful. The clouds float across the higher peaks and the snow blends in with the sky, making the whole mountain seem to fade slowly into the backdrop like a Japanese woodblock print. Most of all, I just like to gaze at the mountain. The sight of its snow chills me even from far away, but something about its presence still makes me feel as if I could burrow into its icy, pristine slopes and call it home.

    Now I am in Newport, on my first-ever road trip with my college roommates, Danica, Michelle, and Leah. The motel in which we’re staying is right up above the beach. We can look out over our balcony and see the waves pulling over each other onto the sand and Yaquina Head lighthouse flashing its distinct signature into the night- two short flashes, a fourteen-second pause, then two bright blazes again. It’s very dark out there right now. I cannot see very far, save for the whitecaps of waves that light up the water with their foamy exertion. My roommates are inside, sleeping. I am watching the waves and listening to them and thinking about what’s out there, over the sea, across the open air. I am thinking about what I know and what I don’t know of the world. It’s not far away; whatever it is we’re looking for. No matter the distance between it and ourselves, as long as we have it in our sights, we can hold it in our hearts as we navigate the course of this world. The distance in between becomes nothing. You can set your sights on anything as long as your eyes are clear.

    On a clear day, you can see forever.
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