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Monday, August 04, 2008


I'm not sure what it is, but there is something so soothing to me about being on, in, or by water (in that order).

A walk down along my local beach will often do it. The evening I got back to Massachusetts from Ireland, having just found out less than 24 hours before about my dad's being gone and having just made arrangements to go back to the airport to fly down to Texas in less than 18 more, I found some relief from my jittery, jet-lagged, jolted existence by walking right on down to Lynn Beach with my friend Shawn, scuffing my shoes in the wet sand while Shawn drew pretty pictures in it with her feet.

My last day in Ireland, those lovely few hours before I got the message to call my mom, who'd been trying to find me for a couple of days, was one of my favorite in the 10 day whirlwind working-vacation. And it was the least check-it-off-the-tour-book of them all. The three of us remaining (my boss K and colleague A) were each charged with saying what we would be disappointed to leave Ireland without having experienced, and I chose "be by the sea in Dublin."

Dublin is a port town; I would've thought it would be easier to get down to the beach.

It turns out, after an aborted attempt to take a bus and a long walk by the river (happy, that),

. . . I had to do a little research and planning to get us on a local commuter train, which we took out to a gorgeous seaside town

. . . and I took my shoes off, rolled up my pants, and felt like a cell phone recharging (!) by just a few minutes in the ice cold water.

Previously, on our drive in the mountains surrounding Dublin, and then across the island to the Western side, while my colleague-friends enjoyed the gorgeous green foliage and fascinating old architecture, ruins, and cemeteries,

. . . I found myself drawn like a duck to the presence wherever, however, of water.

Who knew we'd see surfers in the Atlantic on the west coast of Ireland?

And the gift of an hour's sunshine just at the time we arrived at the Cliffs of Mohr, priceless and postcardy, but the chance to touch and breathe, not just admire from afar, life-giving.

Coming back up to Mass. after a couple of weeks in Dallas with no dips in flooded rivers or lakes this year left me dryer in spirit than I even would have been otherwise. When my friend Susan called out of the blue to offer a day and night by a lake in New Hampshire while she traded kids out at camp, I packed on the spot.

But before I left for the lake Saturday morning, Shawn and I picked up burritos in town and sat by the water to celebrate her birthday at her local beach Friday night, and, despite coveting the kayakers and resisting walking in the waves, I felt energized enough to face a roadtrip with kids and emotional catch-up conversation in the morning.

In New Hampshire, while Susan promised a walk around the corner to partake of the beach (and the Blob!),

. . . I couldn't wait and jumped right off the dock at our house and swam out in the lake like a fish coming home. I floated, lay, swam, and was. On, in, by the water.

This past Friday night, Shawn and I went into Cambridge for some disappointing Shakespeare Slam in Harvard Square, followed by what should by now predictably have been the highlight of the trip: picking up hummus and grape leaves wraps and walking down to sit by the Charles River while the sun set, me coveting the rowers and soaking in the nearness.

If it were not for the water's nearness -- vast, wide open water or streams -- I might not be able to find a way to live up here in Massachusetts now, weighed down by work not done and family not near. But, the water is near, and there are friends to share it with me. And, maybe someday too, there will be another boat for me to sit or stand on.

Another hour deeper in the night
Another mile farther down the road
A man can drive as hard as he can drive
And never get as far as his heart was meant to go
Sometimes when you look up in the sky
You think we might be closer than you know

Another tune forms in my head
More harmonies, more empty words
Oh, I could play these songs 'til I was dead
And never approach the sound that I once heard
I remember when I was just a kid
Listening in the sky
Believing that the wind would stir

And I know the river is deep
I found out that the currents are tricky
And I know the river is wide
And oh the currents are strong
And I may lose every dream
I dreamt that I could carry with me
But I have failed so many times
And You've never let me fall down alone

'Cause I know the river is deep
I found out that the currents are tricky
And I know that the river is wide
And oh, the currents are strong
And I could lose every dream
I dreamt that I could carry with me
Oh, but I will reach the other side
Please don't let me have to wait too long

Another hour deeper in the night
Another mile farther down the road
We could be closer than you know

-from Rich Mullins, "The River"

-- view from the WB Yeats tower, middle of Ireland.

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