My friend Z, was lamenting the other day how much she missed the ocean. She, like me, grew up in Miami and was always surrounded by water. Z now lives in New Mexico which is an amazingly beautiful locale, but the closest body of ocean water is more the ten hours by car.
It triggered something in my soul that caused me to ponder about my own relationship that I have to water. I was really attracted to New Mexico’s energy in my youth and even contemplated a move there but the lack of ocean water was upsetting to my spirit.
I have always made my home very close to water. In Miami one side was the Atlantic Ocean, on the other side was the Gulf of Mexico, and my neighbor was the vast sawgrass of the Everglades. After University I crossed the lower 48 and settled in Martinez, California. Martinez sits on the Sacramento River which let out into San Francisco Bay. Only a 45 minute drive was the Pacific Ocean. It was always to cold for me to swim in, but it was a marvel just to gaze out over the cold water. I really had no inkling that one day I would cross that ocean making my home on the other great bay, Tokyo Bay. I now look across the Pacific Ocean across it’s vastness from the other side.
Why have I always made my home near the water? Is it because of where I grew up? I never appreciated the ocean till I moved to California and the ocean became too cold to swim in. As a youth I was always bothered by the salty air, the sand getting into my bathing suit and the blasting furnace of sunshine. Now, I find myself on the edge of Tokyo Bay. My home is wedged in between the Kyoedogawa River and the Bay. The high levee walls are only a five-minute walk from my home.
I can peer over the river into the city of Urayasu. Both Kasai, where I live in Tokyo, and Urayasu have long pasts as fishing villages. On this unusually cool day in July, I watched fishing boat leaving their berthings to go out into the bay. The traditional Japanese party boats or yukatabune were also venturing out into the bay.
Even though man has changed the land by adding concrete peers and bridges to span the gaps between the land, the ocean itself remains constant. I think back to my sandal clad ancestors that stood on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea and wondered where the currents would take them. Here I am now watching the concrete and steel bridge that connected my part of Tokyo to Chiba, thinking the same question.
The sea is part of my soul. It is part of the very essence of how I define myself in this modern world. It is a way of connecting with my ancient roots. All we have to do is listen to the waves. Watch the brave fisherman leaving in the twilight light to fetch bounty from the sea. The sea, La Mer, in all continual awesome beauty.