Second Morning, San Diego
I keep jumping up from the curvy cushioned chair in which I am sitting and reading and drinking coffee in hope of seeing the flocks of loudly chattering wild parrots which fly and roost and chatter in this up-the-hill neighborhood of Ocean Beach in San Diego, California. But I never do – see them – that is. Gone into hiding before I get there, wherever “there” is, the shortest route (for me to see ) facing north and west through huge living room windows, a little longer to get out the slider, which needs to be slid, to one of two outdoor porches in this apartment we have rented for five days.
Either direction the parrots are gone when I get there, though I was rewarded a few moments ago with an extended song of a Pacific Ocean seagull. I can, I am thrilled to report, see the ocean, some eight or nine blocks and far below my porch away, stretching endlessly off into the west. Real seagulls for a real ocean. We do hear seagull cries sometimes in Portland, some 90 miles inland from this ocean. But those seagulls are lost, possibly intoxicated on city garbage, surely in withdrawal from seashore clam and crab snacking. I cannot say they have sold out, moving to the inland city from the coast – usually we all make our own choices – but I can’t help but feel they are somehow diminished. I mean, after all, they are sea gulls.
I think I may have been a seagull too, in some other life, surely nothing so exotic as a wild parrot. The ocean flows through my blood, and I am never more aware of that primary fact than when I am back here, at an ocean. The fact is I am a seacoast boy, raised in a Massachusetts town hard by the body of water called Buzzards Bay – which is such a cool name – and nearly everywhere I have lived through my life before the January 2009 move to Portland – West Yarmouth and North Truro on Cape Cod, Wareham and Salem and Newburyport in Mass., Vero and New Smyrna Beaches in Florida, Santa Monica and Oakland here in California – was directly on the water or a quick hop, skip, and jump away. Granted, I did live some years of my life in Lowell, Massachusetts. But I was two blocks away from the Merrimack River, and could follow along its side 25-30 minutes east to the Atlantic. From Lowell I commuted to work in communities abutting Boston all those years, and the ocean never felt far away – because it wasn’t.
So now, these days, consigned to an inland life – and I am forever and always begging my wife to move down here (to San Diego) and she won’t, and I won’t go anywhere without her – my blood flows quicker, with a vibrancy familiar, when I come to the coast. For sure when I come here. With my old seagull friends and relatives. And, this morning, wild parrots.