When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me
to dig the sandy shore.
My holes were empty like a cup
In every hole the sea came up,
Till it could come no more
--Robert Louis Stevenson--
In the traditional language of the people here on the Rez (which is hardly spoken any longer, but the cultural implications remain), the question "Where do you live?" draws not the address of your residence but rather where one feels most alive - where does your heart live? Where do you live?
I live at the shore, and I think I always have. Some of my youngest and most vivid memories are from trips to the coast with my family.
Mountainous sand dunes line my memories much as they line the shore. I imagine my parents reading or dozing on a blanket in the warm dunes, sheltered for a time from the pounding wind while my little brother (there was only one then) and I clambered up to the top of the dune and slid down, or played hide and seek in the sharp beach grasses. I can still remember the feeling of the warm, dry sand under my feet, the grit of the sandy sandwiches and snacks for lunch, the snapping sound of the kite whipping in the wind up from the string my dad and I hold together.
I can sit and stare at the waves hitting the beach for hours. I still love to run in them, pausing to feel the sand slip back out from under my feet, scanning the wet sand after each collision for treasures the sea may have left behind. Am I now too old to jump into the waves?
To bring my children to the place I live is a joy. To run with Lyddie up, down, up, down the beach, letting each wave chase us and shrieking with surprise when the wave is just a little bigger, faster, stronger than we expect. To sit with my toes and fingers buried in the sand and watch my husband build a castle with Millie and to hear Rosie's little voice singing to herself as she scoops up sand - "Dump it out... dump it out..." These are precious memories of a short trip to the sea.
Where do you live? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.