11:30pm Sept. 19, 2015
It’s Friday night, which in Avalon means a lot of parties. In spite of that and being on the border of dysfunctionally tired, after everyone else went to bed I took a walk down to the beach by myself – something I always do. It would be better with more quiet but it’s still nice feeling the sand on my feet and listening to the waves. A few years ago when my mother started bringing me along on these trips, I was about one month post-op from my second shoulder surgery in 6 months, and that was the one on my dominant arm side. My heart condition had been diagnosed a little over a year prior, so I was still learning how to manage that. I remember how exhausting the walk from the boat to the hotel was, and then I had to carry my bags up the stairs. Then the entire weekend I had to go down and back up the stairs for everything that we went to do. My mother and I walked together one evening of the trip to the casino, and that first year it seemed so far away. We stopped several times on the way, and we walked slow, and I remember not only feeling how much it taxed my heart but also the pain in my low back, SI joint, and sciatic nerve. On top of that I have had to be conscious of the knee I damaged when I was 16, and impingement that has developed over the last year or so in one ankle. Each year my mother and I take the same walk one night together, on top of all the other activities. Each year it gets a little easier. Here everything stays the same and I’ve been gauging my progress. Tonight that walk included other members of the family, and I found myself walking with greater ease than I can remember in my adult years of visiting the island. It was casual but I was pulling ahead of everyone, and without feeling my heart pounding like that first time. I didn’t have to stop to rest, and I didn’t feel like I was overdoing anything. I am tired, but it’s because I’ve been up since 4 AM and I did that on three hours sleep the night before. That’s a long day for me.
A little while ago I walked past a large fountain in the middle of Crescent Ave. That’s the main street that runs parallel to the beach. That fountain has been there for a very long time and it is decorated all around with the tiles made here on the island. As I trailed my fingertips across a few of them, I thought to myself… these are the same ones that were here when I was 12 years old on my first visit to the island. The same ones I stood here admiring 35 yrs ago. Sometimes it’s nice to revisit memories in a place that has been good to you, and this island has most definitely been good to me. Some of my most cherished memories are right here. I can walk right up to the same structures, streets, and land, and reconnect with the same wonderful sense of safety and ease I discovered here as a child. It’s a different world from the mainland.
Walking back to the hotel, I stared down at the cobblestones beneath my sandals.. knowing they too were here so long ago. In a time when history is often unappreciated and sometimes destroyed, I find comfort in the familiarity and the ability to return to a mostly unchanged spot from my memories and experiences in childhood. In two more years, I will be 50 yrs old so that is becoming more and more significant.
10:24pm Sept. 20, 2015
Cool things I did today:
Saw Wrigley Memorial in daylight. Yes, I’ve been up there at night before. Don’t ask. lol
We hiked back to town rather than take the trolley. Good workout.
Went swimming in the ocean, first time in 3 years. A real swim too – deep water and I stayed in a long time. Not only that, I borrowed my nephew’s mask so I could explore. Anyone that really knows me knows I have had serious issues with deep water. I learned to swim at 4-5 yrs old and and am at home in water, but when I know I’m not alone like in a pool… it’s tense. It *was* anyway. Kelp.. I can’t explain why. It’s a stupid phobia. Seeing stuff move in the currents always sent me into panic mode. Well, not now apparently. I watched the fish (Garibaldi & Bass). I played with kelp that washed in with the tide. Nothing. lol No reaction. One better… We went for a swim again after dinner. It’s warm tonight so we thought why not? That’s something I would never have done before. It was amazing.
Overcoming fear is a big deal when it’s something that has held you back. The last time I swam in anything other than a pool at night it was in the Illinois river in Oklahoma… 25 yrs ago. The last time I felt comfortable in the ocean was almost 30 yrs ago. I feel like I got a piece of myself back.
I have one rad little random thing to add. I reached to grab a drifting clump of seaweed and it felt odd, so I turned my hand over to see what it was, saying “What have I got?”. It moved! LOL! It too a couple seconds to figure out because the color matched the seaweed, but it was a seahorse with its tail curled around a stem. [About 5 inches long with tail curled.] There it was lying in the palm of my hand. It’s the first one I’ve ever seen in the wild. For a few seconds we weren’t sure it was alive and well but it was. My niece held it (in the water) for a moment, and then we sent it on it’s way. Nephew verified it swam off in good order. ☺ That’s a unique experience that would never have occurred to me. No photos, but a great memory I’ll cherish.
I probably overdid it today. I don’t care. I put aloe on my sunburned face, took something for achy joints and a gnarly muscle spasm in my back. I’m certain I’ll have to again in the morning. I’m exhausted.. but it’s okay.
The combination of high temps and profoundly higher than usual humidity kept me from trying to tackle Lone Tree Trail again, but it is what it is. I made the wise choice. It was a wonderful day anyway. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. 😎
This is what my little oceanic visitor looked like. Same coloration. A friend posted a link and that was at the top, interestingly enough. There was an intriguing conversation that ensued…
In the link she posted was this mythology information:
“The Ancient Greeks and Romans believed the seahorse was an attribute of the sea god Neptune/Poseidon and as such, the seahorse was considered a symbol of strength and power. Ancient Europeans believed that the seahorse carried the souls of deceased sailors to the underworld – giving them safe passage and protection until the met their destination/destiny.”
To understand where this hit me, you have to know that this trip marked the one year anniversary of receiving sad news of a friend that had taken his own life. Veteran, well-respected, a strong presence, a good friend, and someone that I had known for about 20 years even though we didn’t always stay in close contact. He was in intractable pain, which is a scary and awful place that I have been many times myself… and I have felt the desperation as well. This was one of the most difficult losses for me to process because I could feel where he was at. I understand it all too well. While on the island, I was this particular weekend processing a lot of the emotion and finding ways to finally say goodbye and let it go. He was by the way a Navy Veteran.
I think this little guy in the palm of my hand just heard my heart. I was in the ocean tackling some personal fears as it was. My friend had a nickname.. Fearless Leader. I found that kind of amusing in and of itself, because I have tried to make strides in my life to become more of a fearless individual and that’s what I was out there splashing around with the kelp doing at that moment.
“The symbolic meaning of seahorse is quite intricate and diverse as this little creature itself is full of surprises. The seahorse is quite a unique creature, and thought to have mystical significance among the Ancient Greeks, European (alchemists) and Asians.
Symbolic meaning of Seahorses carry the following significances: Patience, Friendliness, Protection, Inflexibility, Perspective, Generosity/Sharing, High-Perception, Persistence, and Contentment. A relatively calm, and mild-mannered creature, the seahorse is seemingly content to roam the seas. Their bodies are geared for ambling-type motion – not for speed. Thus, they are symbolic of patience and contentment – they are happy with being where they are, and are in no hurry for advancement.
Further testimony to these attributes is the lack of evolution of the seahorse’s body style. They have remained with this body style without change since their inception. Content to be who they are, and not feeling the need to change – these are a few profound lessons the seahorse provides us. However, along with a resistance to change, and a carefree approach to progress, the seahorse can be a symbol of inflexibility or stubbornness. To wit, the seahorse wraps its tail around the nearest object in order to anchor itself in turbulent waters. This is a lesson to be persistent in our goals, but be mindful that we are not too inflexible or stubborn in our achieving them.
A unique aspect of the seahorse is that the male is impregnated by the female and carries the offspring to term. This is a message of sharing the load in the home, and gaining perspective of both sides (genders) of an argument or situation. The seahorse has a boney exoskeleton which is a message of protection. Often when the seahorse comes to us it is a sign that we either need protection from our external circumstances, or we are building walls that aren’t needed. Their armor-bodies are a sign that sometimes we might need to let our guard down – or perhaps we are leaving too open to get hurt.”
Whatever other messages there were in all of that (and it will be different for anyone reading such), it touched me because of my friend and the loss I was in the midst of remembering. I have Greek ancestry, if I’ve never mentioned it… so there is a lot of significance in someone randomly dropping mythology from that origin (and others) into the conversation. Most of all, his connection to the sea made this an intriguing moment.
Deep… and a lot to think about.
Safe journey, Fearless.
My annual tradition is to find a pair of earrings as a souvenir of the trip. I found this one lone pair of seahorses and they went home with me. ❤