halibut state park, september 2011
I'm an "east coaster". I grew up in western Massachusetts which is actually a few hours from the ocean and I never thought of myself as living anywhere near the coast. I remember in second grade my pen-pal from Australia wrote asking what it was like to like to live by the sea. I was totally puzzled by the question and my mother got out a map and showed me that in fact we were near the coast in relative terms. She told me that we had the best of both worlds, mountains and fertile soil yet we weren't land-locked... her bias was pretty evident!
Now that we live just outside of Boston of course we are close to the ocean, but we actually see it surprisingly little. We are skiers and hikers and campers and love the woods and mountains so we're generally drawn to the west to my home town or up to Vermont and New Hampshire. Truthfully I'm not a big "beach go-er". Pale skin and an inability to sit still are not a great match for beach culture. Still the idea of being near the coast plays a powerful role in my sense of self.
I remember camping on Lake Superior at Pictured Rocks in Michigan, the horizon was endless and it looked and sounded just like the ocean. It was staggeringly beautiful but I had to keep bending my mind around the idea that this.is.not.the.edge. I know, something is wrong with me.
I have a mental image of where I am in an aerial view and I do get an irrational feeling of claustrophobia when I think about moving too far from land's edge. I am fully aware that it's silly. My father lives in Minneapolis and I've spent a lot of time traveling all around the country. I love so many cities in the middle of the country where the architecture is far more daring and not so tethered to tradition. I also love the mountains and the countryside and I especially love that there are areas where the cost of living is not as ridiculous as it is here. There are so many amazing places that in theory I want to call home... but my brain always goes to "land-locked, land-locked"... and so I've never strayed too far.
And although I don't like to lounge on the beach, I do love a rocky coast, staring out at the horizon, listening to the waves crash, and smelling the salty breeze. All the cliches are true, there are few places more calming.
I'm not certain where we'll end up settling down or if we'll stay right where we are. I'm sure if I do move I'll make peace with my phobias, but wherever I am I'll always be an "east coaster".