A few months ago, I was at the beach. If you’re not familiar with the Oregon beach, imagine a California beach and then remove the sun. Or imagine a Florida beach and remove the sun, soft sand, and seashells.
I do love the Oregon coast. The cliffs are magnificent, the waves often awe-inspiring. But the best way to experience the Oregon beach is from inside: preferably a beach house with large windows that protect you from the tempestuous weather but still give you a decent view of the Pacific Ocean.
In this case, I was sharing the house with a number of other women on a book group retreat. We mostly read while eating snacks and drinking wine. It was heavenly, since my ideal heaven involves lots of books and comfy chairs.
Even I get a little restless sometimes, so one of the mornings dawned cloudy without rain, and I had heard rumor of tide pools down the beach. So I set off, rain jacket on, just in case.
Oregonians are a hearty bunch, so any particular day, regardless of weather, you can find people walking or running down the beach. This beach, though, ended in a cove, the ridge above lined with homes, and so the combination of factors made it nearly deserted. Behind the large rocks, two stories high, the ocean crashed with fury and strength, bits and pieces of waves spraying through the gaps.
I found the tide pools easily, the rocky outcropping creating natural alleys for the water to come in and shields that prevented it from going out. This morning, all over the rocks and the pools lay the brightest orange and purple starfish, nestled in the rock, huddled together. They were everywhere, unmoving but alive.
This morning I had a lot on my mind, and so I considered the nature of tide pools, the communities left behind when the tide goes out. How it could be a little scary but also a lot soothing to be in a secure place away from the trials and tribulations of the crashing sea. Tide pools have their own danger, but on deserted beaches like that one, the tide pools seemed pretty safe.
And I considered how we find ourselves in tide pools sometimes, places that are safe away from the crashing of the sea. Places that you know and can live in, but maybe can only grow to a certain size. You take what you can from the environment, but at some point find yourself just sitting.
There’s nothing wrong with a tide pool…unless you live your whole life there, trying to stay protected, away from the wide wet world of dangers.
All this to say, I love my life, my community, my job, my home. But it has become a tide pool.
It’s crazy to me, because I love sitting still: I love safe, I love familiar, and I love comfort. Which makes me think this can only be a God thing, because I wouldn’t be moving otherwise. Somehow I know it’s time to move on and try something new. Get out of this tide pool and find new challenges.
So here is my announcement: I’m leaving the tide pools of Oregon for the dry hot plains of Waco, Texas.
Come fall, I’ll be attending Baylor University, pursuing my masters in English. I’ve lived many places in this country, but never Texas: swapping wet for dusty, green for brown, hipsters for cowboys. I’m diving into the waves, trying to figure out a new culture, climate, academic life, job, living situation, and community where everyone will be strangers.
This is why I’ve been silent for almost a month on my blog. I’ve been sitting with this impending change day after day, and I’ve had a lot to say but not the ability or opportunity to say it. Now that my bosses know my next steps, and I’m starting to tell people in person, I can finally express this next chapter in my life here.
I’m excited, scared, sad, hopeful, uncertain, trusting, and only sometimes brave.
Thoughts and prayers are appreciated as I decide what books can make the trek with me, as I experience my last Oregon summer for a while, as I anticipate the good-byes that will be painful because the relationships have been so beautiful.
I have loved this tide pool, and I have been challenged over and over within it, as new elements have emerged with the tide coming in and out. I’ve had the chance to write, to teach, to speak, and to grow. I haven’t been stagnant in this tide pool, and I’m thankful for what I’ve had the chance to do. I just think I’m being prepared for a different tide pool.
A Texas-sized tide pool.