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The Ocean

July 13, 2010

Tonight when I was on my way down from the top of the hill behind my house, I glanced up at the sunset one last time and noticed that the light was hitting the top of the clouds in the same way it hits the ocean, illuminating the edges of the horizon in a bright white glow. For a moment I imagined myself back on the shores of Assateague Island or on the beach at Bay Head, walking along the water with sand between my toes and a breeze gently tossling my hair.

I haven’t seen the edge of the East Coast for over two years; as a kid and a young adult, I saw it several times a year visiting my grandparents and cousins. I miss the ocean and it smells, the sense of awe and vastness it inspires. Yet I wouldn’t trade the hills and valleys of southeastern Montana to get the ocean back; the ocean is dear to me because of the memories it recalls, but the Great Plains feel like part of my soul. It remains a mystery to me that this place I’ve finally landed feels so much like home, though I didn’t grow up here and never came here as a child. I have no known relatives here, but somehow I have a connection. The golden waves of grain and grass, the smell of sage permeating the summer nights, the fields roamed by horses and cattle, the two-lane highways and star-studded skies — they all feel so much a part of me that sometimes I wonder whether I spent a past life in this part of America.

I miss Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and my family very dearly and a piece of me will always remain back east, but the rest of me comes alive out here in a way I’d never felt before, and at present, at least, I have no plans to leave.

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