Friday, July 8, 2011
Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. ~ Auguste Rodin
40 years ago my parents and younger brother and I vacationed in the little town of Waldport on Alsea Bay in Oregon. A quiet little burg along Highway 101. It wasn't one of the more popular tourist towns, tucked back from the Pacific Ocean. We'd rented a cabin-style unit in an older motel for four days. It wasn't a vacation I wanted to go on. I was 17, my younger brother 11. My parents were going thru some particularly hard years in their marriage and the air in the cabin was thick with tension and bickering.
My brother and I escaped to the long stretch of beach that skirted the bay. The tides came and went with a quiet ferocity. There was no surf...we could spot that off in the distance at the mouth of the bay. But sea lions bobbed about when the tide was high. Sea birds skittered and cried overhead. We skipped rocks out across the smooth surface of the water. For siblings with 6 years between us, we got along remarkably well.
Towards the late afternoon of the second day there, we befriended two brothers and their sister. They had shrimp guns and we amused ourselves by screwing them down into the wet sand and extracting small sand shrimp. Nothing worth eating. We might've built a sand castle. But as the sky was streaked with apricot orange and pink sherbet and we were standing together in a circle looking down at the shrimp gun, another pair of bare feet entered into our tight orbit. My gaze moved upward until I found myself staring into the most incredible pair of golden brown eyes I'd ever seen. They belonged to one of the most handsome young men I'd ever encountered. We stood transfixed as that moment in time stopped for the length of a heartbeat. Sound didn't register. We created our own vacuum. And when he said, "Let's go take a walk" we headed off down the shore. One of the brothers yelled, "Hey, where you going?" but I didn't look back.
I don't know what my father sensed. He'd been standing there off to the side. But when my younger brother began to run after us Dad called him back and told him to leave us alone. And when the two of them headed back to the cabin no one called for me to follow. I stood in the cool wind as the sun went down and became acquainted with my soul mate.
It wasn't love. What teenage encounter at that age is real love? But until the moment he entered into our circle I had still been a tomboy girl. I'd had no serious crushes. And this wasn't a crush. It went deeper than that. Is there such a thing as chance encounters, or does everything that happens to us in our lifetime happen for a purpose? Was he there to help me cross the chasm from childhood into the moment when I became fully aware of myself as a young woman? I don't know. But I do know it was magical. We sat up half the nite, hunkered down against the sea wall to block the cold wind blowing in from the sea. We never kissed. We never even held hands. But he told me, "If I were to die right now it would be ok because I'd know you were still here in the world."
As this memory came to my mind tonite I remembered his name. I did a Google search on him and it surprised me he was even real. And he is alive and hopefully well somewhere in southern California where he is a high school teacher of Fine Arts. That seems very fitting for him. He had the soul of a poet.
And I will leave it there. I have no desire to contact him.
But he will always remain the apparition who seemed to flow in on the tide. Who made a young girl feel pretty and worthy of the attention of a handsome young man for the first time in her life.