Home Again

You don't have to read this blog for long to see that I have a thing about the ocean. It's more than merely a 'thing', though. Growing up surrounded by the sea and all that comes with it - the smell of wet sand, the wind, the sound of waves and the scent of salt in the air - does something to a person. Like calls to like and the 70% of the Earth that is ocean calls to the 70% of us that is salt water, the rhythmic whoosh of waves echoes the rhythmic whoosh within our pumping hearts and when I am near the shore, it is as if there is no me and no Other, there is just one. I disappear within it, it absorbs me, there is no me ending or it beginning, there is just being within and around and together. It is home in a way no other place has ever been. And living landlocked so far from salt and wind and waves, I am cut off from the sea. Cut off from my home.

After I moved downtown, I found a substitute. I live close to Lake Ontario and for years, when the weather was nice, I'd walk down to Harbourfront, find a relatively quiet place away from the tourists and all that comes with them (noise, music, talking) and read a book to the soundtrack of small waves splashing against the dock. There was no scent of salt, but it was water, it was waves, I could tune out the sounds of the busy area and although my view of neverending water was blocked by the Toronto Islands, it was okay. It was almost-home and it was a salve for the soul. And then things got bad and my arm couldn't handle driving the chair to the lake and back and I needed Mandatory Rest Periods and about six years ago, or maybe seven, I could no longer pop down to the lake and I lost my almost-home.

But you adapt and I found other ways there. I found peace in the blue walls of my bedroom, cool serenity in my green-on-green bathroom painted to look like it's under water. Found rest for my eyes in Google images, doing search upon search of the words beach and ocean, found rest for the ears in CDs with the sound of waves and was giving a gift of tangible water the colour of the cold ocean of my home, water I could hold and wear when Alison sent me a shawl that I always keep near me. And it helped, they all helped. When the longing becomes too much, they make it less and easier to bear.

Last weekend, Michele took AB and I to Ward’s Island, a place I've never been despite my 26 years of living in the city. I booked Dignity - expensive, but their punctuality is worth it - and off we went. And on a still day, where the water was as calm as glass, I went back to the lake, back on the lake

And we went to Ward’s Island and was surrounded by water and I saw my city from the other side

And we entered a magical world. A land of beautiful small cottages, respectful of the world around them, tucked within nature, instead of buildings substituting nature, at times so tucked within that they seem to have organically grown into a house shape

And it was a world much in tune with the water, an upside-down rowboat here, a deck with a view of the lake there and just over on the right, a boat in the yard almost the shape of a Viking ship

And then we turned the corner and came to the other side of the island and this is where I smelled wet sand on the breeze, a scent I haven't smelled in over 15 years and yet, the sense of peace carried with it was instantaneous and filled the place in my heart held empty for just that moment. And breathing in the wet sand, with the wobbling sound of the wooden boardwalk under my tires, I felt as if I were in a holy place, a sanctuary

And a little further down the boardwalk, just past the place where the other point of the half moon bay glides into the lake, we reached the place where there was nothing but water. No shore on the other side, no land to see, just water and water and water.

And the world opened up, I stepped inside and I was home again

Thank you, Michele.