The Ocean

“The ocean has always been a salve to my soul,” said the troubadour Jimmy Buffett. I have the wonderful privilege of living just a few miles from the Pacific. And oh, it is pacific. It so calms my soul. Sometimes I am delightfully surprised by the panoramic view climbing a hill to somewhere else. Sometimes that view is my sole destination.

***

Kristine a few years ago arranged with a couple we so enjoy to meet for wine and appetizers near sunset along the shore. It was a lovely surprise. The breeze was soothing. The sunset was rich with hues of gold and dark blue. It was a wonderful respite from daylight.

***

I remember the contrast of the beautiful Atlantic just a few blocks from where I worked in the summer of 1963. I had just graduated from high school. I worked for a late middle-aged man who ran his own parking lot in downtown Miami.

My most vivid recollection is about one memorable car. It found its way into the parking lot daily. It was a customer’s 1949, black Cadillac.I regularly parked it for him in the lot. We always backed the cars into the parking spaces. The “Caddy” had no power steering or air conditioning. My puny 130 pounds and skinny arms were barely up to the task.

The bright sun beat down on the black car as though it was igniting an oven. The ability to deftly maneuver that wheel was beyond my skill set. Though my first hernia emerged about 45 years later, I suspect that tissue began to weaken right there under that blazing Miami sun in that four-wheeler, the size of a Sherman tank.

And then, hours later I would drive home along Biscayne Bay that empties into the beautiful Atlantic. I inhaled that wonderful breeze. And, all was well.

***

It was 1978. Kris and I spent that year in Ventura, CA. We had never picnicked at the beach. We purchased arguably the best sandwiches in town. As I recall they were very “California.” The sandwich consisted of a bed of sprouts, a lot of turkey breast and two slices of exceedingly healthy, whole grain bread with mayo. We were so looking forward to our afternoon on the beach.

Then we sat down and began to eat our tempting morsels. As I bit down more and more my youthful molars chomped on grains of sand. So this was a picnic on a windy, beautiful beach. Just another lesson in the daily grind.

***

It was circa 1995, Kris was out fairly deep in the ocean at our local beach. I was not with her.

She suddenly got caught in a terrible undertow. She had swum competitively from the age of eight through college. She had made swimming part of her aerobics for years. She had taught our son Chad to swim at the age of four. Now, she was in something she had never experienced.

She struggled to breathe and was hit repetitively with water. Finally she settled back and got beyond this horrific current of water. She got to the beach groggy and thankful this swim had not been her last. Like most everything in life the ocean can be a haven or a living hell. By the grace of God Kristine was not swallowed by the ocean she loved.

***

It was about 2006. Kris and I took a California, winter’s beach walk. It was a route we had taken many times. We first headed north. The sky was darkening. We picked up our pace. We took our usual 180 at a spot on the beach.

Winds began to blow. Pellets of rain began to fall. That somewhat cold wind was directly in our faces. This was not our usual jaunt along the water. I felt more like an explorer in a land of fierce weather than a middle-aged guy walking his spouse along the Pacific.

It was challenging. But, it was actually a lot of fun. Sometimes you are just surprised by how things work out.

***

It was 2005. My entire family of five took an ocean tour of all the Hawaiian Islands having flown to Honolulu. The group consisted of Kris, Courtney, Alex and Chad, (my adult children and son-in-law Alex). Chad was actually fifteen. We toured each island with a deadline to return to our ship to continue the voyage. The deadlines engendered stress I could have lived without on this beautiful voyage.

On likely the last night before we docked for our flight home, it was moonlit. Kris and I went to the top of the ship and sat sipping some wine. It was a balmy evening with beautiful waves painted by the moonlight. What an idyllic night on the high seas, the perfect ending to our South Pacific journey.

H. Robert Rubin, best-selling Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me, available on Amazon.

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