I like to sit and watch the ocean. As the sun sets behind me, behind the plains, cities, and mountains of this country, it makes the sky it's leaving behind the most magnificent, almost soothing color. Like periwinkle, gray, and gold all mixed together in a meld of brilliance. On this boardwalk bench I sit, carnival sights sounds smells swirling around me from behind and to the left. Corn dogs and funnel cakes, ferris wheels and tilt-a-whirls, bells clanging and people jollying... it's a grand escape from the harsh reality of the real world. An over-sized tiger floats past me with balloons, the neon lights bright against the darkening midnight sky. I look back at the ocean, so steady, so firm, so dependable. Waves lap at the sand like a tongue reaching for a Tootsie Pop. All day, all night, lapping, licking, crashing into the beach; the sand stays, takes the beating, knows what's coming and refuses to leave. It becomes better, stronger, reliable with every tick. It knows it's place, it knows it's purpose and it accepts it. The ocean doesn't budge and neither do I. I am cemented to this bench, eyes fixed on the fading light in the sky and the darkening vastness of the Atlantic. Somewhere over the horizon I wonder if my fate is waiting for me. I wonder what my fate is, what it means for me and where it will take me one day. The steadiness of the breaking waves steadies me and my wandering mind. So often I feel lost, so often I feel alone- even when surrounded by people I feel alone sometimes. I'm missing what they all have and hope has slipped away at ever getting it for myself. So I feel lost and alone, unrelatable and unremarkable. My thoughts drift away like I'm lost in the ocean... what if I'd stayed at that small college I went to right out of high school, what if my kidneys hadn't failed the first time, or rejected the second time, what if I'd taken a chance on Joey, the boy I loved for such a long time? What if I'd really loved him like I wanted to? How would my life be different now? I'm brought back to the present by the blinking lights of a liner in the distance and I know it's no use. You can't change biology and that's what most of this boils down to, one way or another. It's funny how different the Atlantic is from the Pacific. It's a different experience to sit on a Pacific beach and watch the sunset. With a Pacific beach, you seem to always know what's coming. You know when the sun is gone because you see it dip below the water. You can watch a storm roll in from the West, turmoiling the water and changing the sky. You know it's coming, you can prepare, and then you can weather the storm and watch for the clear skies that always, eventually come after it. With an Atlantic sunset, you watch the light fade from the sky until it's gone, The storms take you by surprise as you stare into the east, waiting for the sun to come back, and you only know it's over when the clouds subside towards England, bringing the rain and gray to London. Until that time comes you can only hold your umbrella and wonder if the storm will ever end. Now as I sit, staring, wondering, waiting, the night rips the last bit of brilliance from the sunset behind me. With the light gone I feel hope has drained, though deep inside I know it's been gone for ages. As I've watched the ones I love come and go, marry and have children, move on and up, I seem to always stay the same. I don't know how to change it- as I've tried desperately my entire adult life- and I don't understand why it doesn't happen for me. The disappeared sun seems to have left a void, one I don't notice all the time but lately seems to be rearing its sad little head all too often and likens itself to the oddest metaphors when I write.Maybe the key is to not write. Maybe it's to move on and ultimately accept what life has handed me. The ocean, dark and black and vast now without the illumination of the sun, continues to wear at the sand. I think to my self, "I am lost, I am vain, I will never be the same without you" as I close my eyes and listen to the carnival behind me and to the left. And I know, I will never be the same without you, whoever you are.
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