When you think of “home,” is there a specific place that you picture in your mind? Is there a feeling that overwhelms you or memories that rush through your head? As I stroll up to the edge of the sparkling land, a sense of familiarity strikes me. On both sides of me are heaps of rocks, stacked one on top of another. Some are boulders the size of armchairs, and others are pebbles smaller than my pinky finger. The harsh sunlight glistens against the deep blue field of ripples that is presented before me. Highlights of metallic and teal come together harmoniously, creating depth and beauty. It is in this moment of simply standing and observing such a comfortable place that I feel as though I belong.
The world around me is loud. Crashing waves are accompanied by roaring winds and the constant buzzing of a helicopter overhead. While many sounds ring through my ears, together they form a calming melody. It’s the kind of loud you want to fall asleep to; peaceful and tranquil. In this type of setting, the only action that seems suitable is to sit back and observe, making sure not to disturb the serenity of it all. I watch as a young boy climbs about the obstacle of stones, conquering them with each stomp of his Sketchers. His eyes are squinting and his brows furrowed as he looks towards the beaming ray of sun that is reflecting off the water. He maintains a soft smile and exudes innocence with every leap and bound. In the distance, his mother monitors nervously, the muscles in her face wincing with each swift move he makes. She stands with her hands crossed and her feet planted shoulder-width apart, in an attempt to instill some degree of authority to the situation. Even as her face tightens, however, the twinkle in her eye exhibits love and admiration, entirely contradicting her stern stance. It is nearly impossible to be bitter here. There’s something about the flat, still horizon cutting the world in half that provides you with a sense of realization. There’s something about the way the faded white clouds begin to swallow the sky that brings you to an alternate reality. Everything is different by the sea, especially your perspective.
As I wander in the direction of the wind, the soles of my moccasins eventually meet the pale-brown cement that coexists with a waist-high seawall. The path looks as though it goes on forever, seemingly diminishing in size as I peer farther into the distance. I continue to stroll amongst the sound of lifeless, brown leaves pitter-pattering against the concrete in loose clusters. The sidewalk in bustling and there are people in every direction. I quickly slide to my right to make way for an aggressive runner forcefully sprinting towards me. My gaze follows her pony tail as it sways back and forth, until I notice a lovely friendship approaching across the street. A frail, elderly woman saunters along the walkway as her loyal K-9 sniffs every insignificant crack in the sidewalk that passes. She keeps the leash tight to her body, leaving only a small, arms-length space between them, and her stiff black cane drags behind their trail. I can nearly feel the curly-haired dog’s excitement as the corners of his mouth peel back onto his furry face, leaving his moist pink tongue to dangle out the side. The lively bounce in his step brings a smile to my face as I listen to his long nails tap against the pavement.
Pure bliss. There is a particular feeling that comes over you here. It’s as if every worry you’ve ever had somehow disappears for a few short moments. Your tension and stress exits your body long enough for you to embrace all that surrounds you. My next move is to take a seat on the flat, rough surface of the wall, and clear my head of the thoughts that haunt me. I swing my feet and rock my body back and forth as the weight of my legs hang beneath me. It’s as if gravity doesn’t exist here; this is the place I feel safest.
As the crisp, chilled air thrashes against my skin, countless goose bumps plaster my arms and my baby hairs straighten up. That same sense of familiarity overcomes me and I remember the hundreds of times I was in this exact position years ago. I used to come here to escape. Eventually, after numerous ocean therapy sessions, I began to truly discover who I was and who I wanted to be. Whether I was alone with my own contemplation, or in the company of great friends, the ocean always had the answers I was searching for. I can recall sitting in this very same place with my dearest friends, while our hair flowed in the breeze, frantically attacking our faces and sticking to our freshly glossed lips. We would talk for hours about nothing, but at the same time we discussed everything. We shared our hopes, our dreams, and made promises to always be right by each other’s sides. I planned my entire life sitting on this cement.
As I swing my legs over the concrete block and plant my feet firmly on the sidewalk, I begin to study the weathered wall meticulously, noticing every crack and crevice. Suddenly, I see the same crumbling fracture that I have seen so many times before. The surface is eroding and breaking from within, revealing an internal structure of small rocks mended together. I graze my index finger over the rugged gap and continue along the walkway.
The thin golden pinstripes that line the center of the asphalt lead your eyes directly to the town’s treasure. The road begins to narrow and each step I take towards the giant arch makes me feel smaller as it grows. It’s a city of it’s own. “Welcome to Narragansett”, printed in thick block letters on a cool blue canvas flaps in the wind, casually greeting its visitors. I can do nothing but admire the stunning architecture that is presented in front of me, paying attention to its perfect symmetry and faded stonework. As I stride forward, I am able to appreciate the different shades of each stone. Some are light, as if washed of color from the beating sun, while others are a darker charcoal, eroded and tarnished. Past the arch is a whole other world: the other side. It frames what lies ahead like a portrait, similar to the one hanging above my bed of this exact landmark. This image is what comes to mind when I think about “home.”
Throughout my journey, the mixture of salt and tide create a potent smell that resonates. Finally, I leap down onto the beige sand, my suede shoes filling with the grainy substance. As I walk towards the ocean, the ground beneath me darkens in color, waterlogged from the constant tide being carried to shore. This dusty gray sand sparkles from the sun and the foam residue remains from after the sea departs, leaving delicate bubbles behind. I can still hear the humming of propellers, yet there isn’t an aircraft in site. While I stand and soak in what I am seeing in front of me, I realize that no matter your view of the water, the crisp horizon never changes. It remains a harsh line in the distance, separating two worlds. This place represents balance, stability, and contentment. This place is my home.