Coming Strait Home

One thing always marks my pilgrimages home: the gentle (or not-so-gentle) rocking of a state-operated boat in Pacific Northwest waters.

In the cabin, I hear the familiar tinny announcements welcoming me aboard the ferry and cautioning me against leaving my personal belongings unattended during this crossing. I look out the salt-spotted windows at evergreen-sometimesblue islands. After all these years of island living, I should be able to identify them, but I still can’t.

This is one of the last trips I’ll make home as an undergrad. Looking behind me, I see the people and places that have shaped me and the events that have left me reeling or laughing in their wake. Distance and time have dampened some memories, but they’re there.

I step onto the deck, the clip of the ferry sending currents of air racing past me. I lean over the side of railing to take a photo, but the wind promptly snatches up whatever breath I have in me.

Depending on which side of the ferry I’m on, the water looks either blue or green. Same sea, same little patch of water; altogether different colors. A little change in the angle of refraction or reflection (or something; I jettisoned all my physics knowledge the moment I declared my math major) and I see the waves with new eyes.

I’m getting ready to embark on another crossing, with only a thin net separating me from an ocean. I hope I enjoy the trip.

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