is never complete without a visit to the sea. Just hours after my arrival in New Zealand, we find ourselves down at the beach. Leaning against the railing, camera in hand. Staring out at the horizon, watching waves crest and crash, then crest and crash again. Conversation seems superfluous. Memories and aspirations converge in what seems like a single, drawn-out moment. The sea carries them away again in its thunderous motion before we can grasp them.
a few days later,
we walk along the beach to the rocks at the headland. We scattered my father’s ashes here many years ago. We feel free here. Nothing exists except the wind in my ears and the teal green sea frothing and slapping across the rocks. My mother tells me a story of our childhood here on the beach, how my father dragged me through the water on an enormous piece of seaweed, how he built a chair out of sand for her, how she was at the time heavily pregnant with my brother.
we have to walk
to the headland because the road has been closed off to cars. Once you could drive along and up the steep hill to the lookout. We often did this with my grandparents when we were younger, parking at the top and watching the violent waves crash beneath us. The sea is a powerful lure. Its tide commands the blood, breath and dreams of a person. Since the council reduced access to the rocks, the suicide rate has dropped dramatically.
a meeting place of opposites. A place of baptism, a place of farewell. You could watch the sea all day and never see the same wave twice. It’s the tidal repetition, the unending ebb and flow, that creates a sensation of stillness. Of eternity. A perfect way to end one year and prepare to see in another. Standing seaside, at the edge of future and past, love and loss, and more of both to come.