I swim in the Pacific. The tide is out, and the waves roll long and frothily into shore. I ride them in again and again. Then I lie on my back and float staring up at the clear blue sky. Getting here...
I'd left New York early, in the rain. Took off through gray clouds. We rose through mist and strata. Thicker round shaped dark clouds ranging from oyster to deep gray. Ground still visible, then the Atlantic. We banked, glimpsed the Verrazano Narrows and bridge, Manhattan invisible. I'll be flying sea-to-sea.
We climbed through stages. Into cloud then out, a momentarily bright and clear middle-zone with a dark ceiling above us and a thick gray-white layer below. Gaining altitude into the blue. Sharp true-blue endless blue. Rigpa. The cloud valley below mostly silver-white but with sharky patches of long pointed brown shadows.
Mid-country the clouds are gone. We fly over plains and crop circles and patchwork farms. Now we are over rocky terrain--garnet red rocks, deeply scored canyons and ridges, mountains with roads snaking up to the top in diminishing circles.
Hours go by. I reread Peter Matthiessen's Blue Meridian. Beginning our descent. White lacy cobwebby cloud above, high desert below. Landscape looks bleached into tones of white, cream, pale peach, pale green. Then the coast mountains begin. Dark, bone, mystery peaks, several long sapphire lakes.
I love these long flights across the country. I literally rise into blue. My heart and mind are at ease. Things of the earth matter less in the sky. We begin our descent and I already know I will swim this afternoon.
There are the tall buildings of downtown Los Angeles. The Hollywood sign just a little above and behind them. The Getty Center, white and sprawling in the hills above Sunset. I used the sign and the Getty as landmarks; my friends live there, and there.
We land. I get a ride to Santa Monica. I enter my home away from home and am so glad to see everyone. We hug and catch up; I haven't been away so long this time, but still every one has news. It's wonderful to have more than one place to live. Some real, on earth, others in your imagination. This, for me, falls directly in between. They carry my bags to the Luanne Rice room. How funny and how lucky I feel.
I hurry down to the beach. The sand is hot. Happy voices drift over from the Pier, shrieks from the roller coaster and Ferris wheel. Shorebirds skitter along the tide line. There's a sign: surf to the left, swim to the right. I set down my towel, and before even sitting down, go down to the water's edge on the swim side. The waves are the same. They tug my ankles. I let them draw me in.
I dive in the and come up for air and I am looking up into the blue sky from which I'd just emerged, and I am in the Pacific.