Tide Pools

photoA 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.

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16 thoughts on “Tide Pools

  1. THIS is poetry: 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.

  2. I love your blogs…even one about you moving on to the next chapter. Please keep blogging You are a great writer (and wonderful person!). Hugs and prayers. 🙂

  3. Sara, wow, what a change that will be. Before you go, or shortly after you arrive there, note the culture you are used to being in. Then note the Texas culture. Then pick what you like best out of each. Few women that I know prefer the Texas culture. I haven’t been there since childhood, but it has been interesting to watch some NW women go and come back. Love who you really are at heart and cling to that.
    I am so easily affected by those around me. When I read books on homesteading, I want to can and bake bread, neither of which are skills I am good at. When I read English novels, I want to make beautiful teas–better at that. My roommate had an English (from India ) accent and my mom thought I was “putting on” an accent after I lived with her. My husband says I sound like my mother after a visit to Oklahoma.
    Find your heart and guard it.
    Annette Wesolowski

  4. Sara, I loved this piece; it shows your brilliance as a writer, the wonderful connections you can make between stuff, the power of your prose. Don’t let graduate school beat all that out of you, please! I’ll miss having you around this here tide pool, sharing a rock every Tuesday morning. But I’m also excited for your adventure, and look forward to seeing what Texas will offer you–and what you will offer Texas.

  5. Sara, I’m a Texan. Ok, not really… I was born in Houston and lived there for 6 months! But I AM a Southerner at heart, having grown up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast until I was 18. There are wonderful things about the South and some not-so wonderful things about the South, and I hope you truly find your place there. I hope you love and flourish in your next tide pool.

    I still feel like I’ve known you for years, and I don’t know you at all, except for the brilliance you share on this blog. Please keep writing. Your gift has spoken to my soul. Really.

    I’m entering a different tide pool myself, and maybe one day soon will be in a place and mental space that I can talk about it. But I’m far from that. In the meantime, this is me: http://pronouncedtwee.blogspot.com/. I look forward to being your blog fan!

    1. Thank you, Thuy! I appreciate your words, and I hope you will find peace and calm waters in your new tide pool. I’m so glad we can connect online–I look forward to reading your words as well!

  6. Sara, I’m so excited to hear your big news about your next step at Baylor. Can’t wait to read what you write from Texas. I know that each new adventure you embark on will continue to develop your brilliance. Oregon will miss you. Texas is lucky to have you!

  7. Now I get it. The whole Texas thing…. I am soooooo excited for you! Isn’t Rebecca Dixon still out in Texas after graduating from there? I know she loved it and you will too. Shine lady! Blessings!

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