Dense fog hugged the ground. Damp sand chilled the soles of my feet. The distant sound of breaking waves, unseen through the brume, cast an ominous mood. Undaunted, I proceeded towards the ocean, quickly losing sight of the hotel. My footsteps exposed dry sand hiding under the thin, moist encrusted top layer. I walked into the enveloping mist, welcoming the solitude, grateful to be heading home.

Dressed only in shorts and a t-shirt, the cool morning breeze met little resistance, sending a cold shiver up my spine. Droplets of moisture collected on the hairs of my arms. The constant crashing of waves grew louder as the scent of oceanic decay filled the heavy air. Behind me the sun’s glow was deeply muzzled, its heat unable to penetrate the grey. I reached hard pack sand, remnant of the receding tide. The soles of my feet sensed another drop in temperature. I continued westward, drawn by the sea. I was close.

And then I saw her. My pace quickened. The first shallow rush of water, stinging cold from unfathomable depths, covered my toes. Spiraling back in time, memories wash through me as the wave receded. Another took its place. Wading deeper, the frigid water wrapped around my shins, then released its grip, proceeding inland. The brief meeting of old friends passed. We both have more to do.

With gentle relentlessness the surf opposed my walk toward deeper tides, and memories. A cry from a lone gull, unseen in the thickening fog, signaled I had ventured far enough. Foaming waves crashed mid-thigh. At the horizon, the pale blue morning sky became visible through a small portal in the fog. I looked into forever, and the vastness beyond, and saw every possibility of life. I knew what sailors of yore felt, and understood the knowledge of their ship’s captains: Another world was out there, waiting to be discovered.

A second cry from the gull signaled my time to return. I retreated from the sea, taking what it taught and what I’d learned. Each passing wave guided me inland, and then returned to its source. It’s original journey over. Its new direction a welcomed change.

I returned the hard-pack sand, a traveler from a distant time and yet, from not so long ago, having discovered a new world inside of me.