A Place Without Memory

Today, I received some disappointing news. Don’t worry; my family and I are all okay and in the grand scheme of things, this too shall eventually pass. We are blessed.

But today’s news means this upcoming year, the year where I hoped everything would finally start to settle for us on our new island, appears to be fast becoming another year of navigating through stormy waters, destination uncertain.

The fact that, as I write this, I’m decidedly off-island, sitting at one of LCB’s places of work (I’m not even going to attempt to explain this one), drinking a room-temperature Diet Coke in an attempt to mask the feeling of what I’m absolutely positive is the fourth stage of starvation, is probably not encouraging perspective on the matter. Were I not in polite society, so to speak, I’d go for a run, or at least pace the room for an hour or seven. But I am in polite society, and so I sit quietly, pacing inwardly, and trying not to type too hard.

When I lived in Chicago, I kept one or two pictures of the ocean at my desk in the English office where I worked. During the day, if I hit a point, much like this one, where I needed to mentally excuse myself from the situation, I’d pull out one of my pictures. The pictures were all of beaches I’d actually traveled to, so I’d call to mind all the sensory details I could recall: the sun bright and warm on my skin, the sound of the waves as they broke near shore, the breeze lifting my hair in a swirl around me, the waters parting cool on my legs as I stood in the ocean, staring fast into the vast expanse of sea and sky.

In the movie The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne, one of the main characters and a prisoner at Shawshank State Prison, speaks of the Pacific Ocean where he longs to escape to and says of it, “They say it has no memory.”

In the moments during all my trips when I stood, quite literally, in either the Atlantic or the Pacific, there was usually a point of losing all awareness of everything before that moment and of anything that would possibly come thereafter. In that space, the past and the future ceased to exist.

It was place separate from all outside experiences. It was a place without memory.

During all those years of teaching in Chicago then, if I needed to, I’d use one of the pictures as a conduit to take me back, if only for a minute, to that place without memory.

Now, all these years later, I find myself restless in my seat, with obligations to certain dictates of civility, and then suddenly I’m pulling up pictures on my computer.

When I realize what I’m doing, I can’t help but thrill to it.

This time, they are pictures of home.

They are pictures of a place so sweet, so dear to me, so drenched in memories, where it is nevertheless possible to find myself for a moment

in a place without memory.

6 Replies to “A Place Without Memory”

  1. I’ll be praying for you and your family.

  2. Thank you for sharing this post. I’ve been re-reading and absorbing it since it posted. Praying for y’all.

  3. A Mommy's Life says: Reply

    Just couldn’t pass by without letting you know how much this hits home for me. My husband and I are currently in the early stages of trying to move further east to be on the coast. That is where I feel at home. I feel like that is where I belong…mind, body and soul. I find myself staring at webcams of the beach…just watching the waves. I couldn’t believe how emotional I was after one of your last sentences here… “this time, they were pictures of home.” <3
    I would love to hear from you if you have any advice for us. I feel like it would be a breeze without the kids, but I want to make sure I am doing what's best for them.
    So glad I stumbled qcross this blog today. 🙂

    1. I’m so glad to hear from you! You just made my day. It sounds like you belong at the beach to me, too. I do address some of the details of our move in the posts under my Prequel category, but so many people have asked me about this that I think I’ll do a post on the logistics of our move. The details are going to be different for everyone, of course, but we did learn a few things along the way that made the transition smoother and more feasible.

      And yes, there’s rarely a day that goes by where I’m not overwhelmed by the fact that this, this place I dreamed of for so long, is now my home.:) Here’s to hoping you’ll be here soon, too!

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