Usually with the turn of the new year, my family and I spend it celebrating at home or with friends elsewhere. It would be a small, but nevertheless fun occasion with food and company.
This is the third year in a row that I spent the holiday season away from my immediate family. The past two I celebrated with extended family in Florida. This time, I’m in California with another branch.
Today was a bit different. While we did stuff ourselves with food and conversation until the dawn of 2015, we went out to town this afternoon. I’ve had my first bite of In-N-Out; explored an old landmark, Mission San Luis Rey; and visited my a military base where my uncle works. The day went by fairly quickly. I sometimes forget that days are shorter in the winter, but the sun setting at four in the afternoon reminded me of that.
And so, with the sun sinking on the horizon, my uncle and aunt drove my two cousins and me to the best possible location to view the sunset: the beach.
Since flying back to Boston from Guam in August 2013, I have not gone further west from the east coast than New York, which isn’t even very far. This would be my first time seeing the Pacific in nearly a year in a half.
When my uncle pulled the brakes on the car on the sandy lot, the sun was already halfway down, and I only had about a minute or two to book it to the shore. Thankfully I wore my running shoes today.
To describe how I felt as I waded in the water, smelled the brine, and touched the icy waves as they foamed ashore is difficult. I couldn’t help but feel a bit of sentimentality towards the ocean and the sun it was engulfing. Back home, I took scenes like these for granted and so I rarely ever paid much attention to them. I can’t remember the last time I saw the sun set in Guam and watched the day become night.
Perhaps my homesickness has reached its peak. Or perhaps I got all emotional because for years I’ve always considered the Pacific an obstacle, a vast boundary that kept me away from the rest of the world, kept me a boy on the island with dreams of bigger lands. But now that I’m on the other side and know firsthand what lay beyond it, I now long for home, for the island I considered my cage, my platform. Ironically, what used to instill me with such despair I now consider soothing.
The salty breeze. The sand in my shoes. The spray of the water on my face. The crashing of the waves. The Pacific.
Maybe we’re not fragmented by oceans at all, but bound by them instead.