Toes In The Sand
Feb. 10th, 2001

The ocean was churning with activity this morning as a result of strong winds blowing in from the south. With high tide pushing the waves up against the rocks, I couldn't go too far but found a quiet spot in the sun, at the base of a cliff and sat and watched as a fisherman in a small boat checked his lobster cages just off shore. A large flock of brown pelicans kept him company, vying for the cast away fish which he tossed to them now and then. When he took off for his next group of cages, the pelicans would all take flight and follow him and then settle right back in next to the boat when he stopped again. It was so delightful to watch this little song & dance they were all doing out there in the ocean together.

A couple of girls in their twenties, most likely girlfriends, came wandering along the beach and asked me if I thought they were crazy for getting themselves so wet. They disappeared around the base of the cliff where I was sitting and then reappeared in a few minutes and asked me if I would take their picture for them. They huddled together under an outcropping of rocks with their arms wrapped around each others waists and smiled their big, happy smiles into the camera. I always laugh to myself when people hand me their little cameras and begin showing me how to use them.  I usually don't tell people I'm a photographer - it's just kind of my little secret. And besides, it doesn't really matter anyway. It's something I do, not who I am. In the moment I tell people I'm a photographer, I set up a response in their minds that might very well take away from anything else they might feel from me. So I just let it be and take their pictures and enjoy knowing that when they get their pictures back, their heads won't be chopped off.

There's something wonderful about the way people look when they're walking along the beach, their pants rolled up and their toes pushing down into the sand. The relaxed smiles on their faces and the slow and carefree way they walk suggests that the ocean and its beaches hold a magical sway over us humans, allowing us to pause for a moment from all of our cares and just be. I don't feel small when I stand at the edge of the ocean and look out into that endless expanse of water. Instead, I feel the enormity and the beauty of the world around me and feel very much at one with it all.

On my drive back up the coast , I stopped at a Dive Shop at the north end of Laguna that I've been eyeing for a long time and signed up for a scuba certification class that I'll start taking in March. I've been wanting to get certified since I was young and snorkeling in the waters off the Greek Islands. So here's another dream finally coming true. I knew I'd get around to it sooner or later - I just had to wait until the moment was right. And this morning the moment was right. My parents are expert divers and have dived all over the world in some of the most famous and beautiful places imaginable. Since they've lived overseas for the better part of their adult lives, it was a natural thing for them to certify and take advantage of the diving opportunities while they traveled. They finally moved home from Samoa a couple of years ago and began settling into their farm up in Idaho and I believe it was on their way home from there that they did their last dive. My mom is 69 and my dad's 73. I always thought it was so amazing of them to still be diving so passionately and often even at their age. They swear their diving days aren't over - but in the meantime I'm hoping that they'll loan me some of their equipment so I won't have to go out and buy it all right now. It's pricey stuff and my resources are limited, what with a daughter in college and all.

Before I left Laguna this morning, I stopped in at the local nursery and bought my mom a bare root rose to send to her for her birthday next week. I'm the only one of the kids that ever remembers her birthdays and I know it means a lot to her. I haven't forgotten to send her a card or some flowers or make a phone call for her birthday in more than thirty years. As painful as it's been for my mom to have me go down a path that she simply cannot accept or be at peace with, I know that she still loves me in a way that barely conceals the fact that I've always been her favorite. She'd never cop to having a favorite but we both know it and that's that. We talk on the phone several times a week and my dad teases her at the end of the day if she hasn't spoken to me. She confides in me things about her relationship with my dad that I know she can't and won't speak to the other kids about - even things about sex. She knows I understand and she knows that I don't judge. It's quite an amazing thing to have this kind of a friendship with one's mom. But I guess this is one of those things that us gay boys are so good at - being best friends with women. Why should mom's be excluded from the party?!

From the water's edge...
Tom
Pussy Cap