26 April 2006

Beyond the sea

Outside my house is a long snaking sea-wall of black stones, bordered by a running path. I went to sit on it today for some fresh air and thinking space, watching the extra-large waves kick up spray into the slanting sun, and feeling the rock I sat on hum with the impact. There was a hiccup when outgoing water meets incoming water, and the seagulls floated and bobbed there, like buoys marking the safe passage channel. As each wave sucked away, the pebbles under the water rumbled and hissed as they were dragged oceanwards. The ocean smelled like childhood- summer days when the beach on Chappaquiddick got too cold for everyone else, but my family stayed on, bundled in coats and hats, to watch the sun setting behind the waving beach grass. The later days when I sat hugging my knees, and pondering the angst of rural teenage life, and even later days when family members fell in love and got married by the ocean.

I could be so many other places- even thousands of miles away, the Atlantic still smells the same. The rock I sit on may be lava-formed instead of granite, but it's got the same sea-worn smoothness under my hands. Why then, is it so important to be here?

My parents left yesterday, after a tearful good-bye the evening before. I know that they want me to live wherever I am happiest, but it breaks my heart to see how we all feel the separation. I know they loved it when I was a 2 hour drive away, in a city they came to often on business. Now that I'm here, visits are relegated to these new intense, short periods where every moment feels like it has to be Significantly Memorable, without the hanging-out of previous days. I see why people stay close to families after this experience, but I'm left wondering also if it would feel different if I weren't living abroad. Is it easier if your parents are in New York and you live in Kansas, or is distance distance, no matter where everyone chooses to live?

Ship sighting: This afternoon, a large fishing ship along the lines of Engey was hovering around the harbor entrance, between the outermost island and Akrafjall. It stayed there for several hours, drifting a distance that seemed too large to have been held by anchor. This seems to be a new trend in the harbor experience- the drifting boat. Maybe it did happen before and I just couldn't see it in all the dark.


SB said...

My family, brother, sister-in-law, 2 kids left Sunday night. It's Wednesday night, and I still feel the tears in my eyes as I think of the good byes.
It seems Greenland creates this huge gap between the two worlds.

I know how you feel. The sight of the ocean brings up so much emotion. They are so close, just accross the pond, yet so far, all the way over Greenland.

I hear your pain, over the ocean waves, I see it too, and I feel it.

Angel said...

I think distance is distance no matter where you are E- I have felt the pain of those goodbyes for years now. I remember when I was in college (back when they let people accompany you into the airport) and my dad would sit with me waiting for my flight, fussing over my luggage, buying me a magazine, and lifesavers for the flight- and then when I would board the plane he would stand waving, and I would keep looking over my shoulder as I walked down the jetway. I always wanted to cry, run back to him, and not leave.

Now every time I arrive back home both him and mom seem older and grayer then from when I last left them. It seems that time is speeding by and that I am missing so much...

So yeah its painful. I have gotten used to it, but I always hate those long silent rides to LAX with my dad, speeding past the sleeping city that for all its faults, I love.

Mo'a said...

I was just confessing to J that I have been reading his blog for some time....I always go to your to get your slant on what you have been doing together in Iceland.
This post hit home for me as my only child, my son, lives in Denmark.....so I have the other side of the feeling of separation.
Great post....you and J are both great writers and I feel like I am there with you when you tell your stories.
I have lived in the Boston area several times....on the North Shore in Reading, Ipswich and Salem....small world :)

sb said...

Hi E,
I just started a little blog on Boston and my life on the other side of the pond. Take a peak if you miss us ;D


ECS said...

Thanks everyone.. I know it's part of how life is these days, and it's something I know my parents have struggled with. They showed me the world and I liked it. Fortunately, they like Iceland, so I think they'll come again.

Mo'a: welcome, and thanks! I think the Boston area/Iceland thing isn't so strange, actually. There seems to be some kind of kindred spirit there.

tsduff said...

Hi E,

I love your reminiscing about the ocean. It is comforting in a way, that it smells the same even in so different a part of the world. Your amazing description of the gravel and the waves is tremendous - makes me long to be there to hear it.

As far as seperation goes, I feel that you could be across town and still feel seperated, but not in the way you feel when someone is off to a foreign land. When my sister and her family moved to Tirane, Albania, I remember feeling so incredibly far away from her. I couldn't picture the different culture, and my imaginings were nothing like reality. I found that once I had actually been there to see her at her place in Albania, things were much better because I could imagine her in her surroundings. Physical seperation is just rough period - when you crave a hug, glance, or touch of the hand. I'm so glad your parents came out to see you.