By the ocean is where I want to be,
With sand dunes and ocean breeze,
Calling out to me,
The cry of gull and bark of seal,
Are calling me home,
Where I can feel,
I must return where the ocean pounds,
For I can’t find peace,
Without ocean sounds.
It had been so long since Caleb left. He remembered driving through the woods, watching the mountains slip away in his rear mirror until he was on flat land in a farming paradise. The scenery was almost the same in every direction. There were no nearby mountains. There were a few trees and houses, just the way he liked it. At least that’s what he thought at the time.
Caleb’s life changed drastically. He endured several years of freezing cold and ice storms. He also endured springs and summers of torrential downpours, floods, tornados, and sticky humidity. The weather was not a factor in his decision to stay or go. Not yet.
The flatland was good for farming and it did not wrap its tentacles around him like the sea did. The sounds and smells of the sea grabbed him when he was young and made an impression. The rhythmic waves gently rocked him to sleep. The beach and ocean became his playground. Later it was his mistress. And in the back of his mind he knew that someday it would be his grave. The sea would wait patiently through his complete life cycle, from birth to death, expecting him to eventually return to the only home he really understood.
As the years dragged by, he grew increasingly lonely but he understood his need. The thing missing in his life was a good woman, one who would pull him to her bosom and give him a sense of security. The women who lived by the sea and those on flatland were so different. Those by the coast loved quicker, more fervently, because they understood their men would be called by the sea and could get lost at sea. Flatlanders usually chose farmers, men who would stay put, men who would be content raising wheat, corn, and kids.
He adjusted to the slower and richer style of loving and eventually he found a woman whose heart was tender and made him feel loved. They watched sunsets and dawns, made love passionately, and communicated endlessly. Life was perfect and the world rotated every day.
But one day his world stopped cold. A blizzard hit while he was in town getting supplies. He struggled homeward but did not arrive until early afternoon the next day. She didn’t come out to greet him, and the house was cold.
He searched frantically but to no avail. Friends joined in the search. She was found lying near the barn, her arms wrapped around a frozen calf. Guilt overwhelmed him. “That was my job,” he thought, “getting all the animals inside.” That thought tormented him more and more. As he withdrew into his shell his friends stopped visiting. They wondered why he was becoming inaccessible. He thought they blamed him for his wife’s death.
The things he liked about the sea were coming back to haunt him. Every night he could hear the relentless pounding of the waves, see the pelicans dipping low as they flew between the swells. And that salty smell was there in his room. The sea was calling him, urging him to climb aboard a fishing boat and sail out of the harbor, away from the safety of the shore.
“Why should I go?” he asked himself. The question remained, unanswered, frozen in the cold air. But Immediately another question rose.”Why should I stay?”
Finally Caleb’s mind was made and he prepared to rid himself of the farm and its memories. He sold what he could and gave away the rest. There was nothing left for him there in the flatlands. Whenever he saw fields of wheat dancing with the wind, he was reminded of ocean swells. Whenever he saw a sunset or dawn, he wished he could see the sun hanging just over the horizon with a ship sailing somewhere.
The sea was his mistress again and each day she was calling, calling him back to where he belonged, back to her open arms. There were new adventures waiting, new adventures that would help him forget the flatlands and teach him that love once lost can sometimes be found again. His will to live had suffered a blow. Now he was willing to dare, to face danger, to love recklessly. Tomorrow he would set sail and he didn’t care where.
(To be Continued)