a rising tide

“The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.” —The Awakening

Finals week makes people do crazy things. Like write blog posts when they have 20-page papers due the next day. Or be awake at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning. And compulsively grab their cameras and head down to the beach in their pajamas to take pictures. Or maybe that’s just me, in my state of sleep-deprived, fever-induced delirium.

Good morning, Isla Vista.

Good morning, Isla Vista.

But on those rare occasions that I’m up before everyone else is (not always completely voluntarily), I love being in Isla Vista. There’s something exceptionally serene and beautiful about the very fragile stillness of everything. I like that the streets, normally filled with energy and life and people, are empty and expectant. I like being outside, listening to the sounds of the waves, seeing the grey slant of morning light filter through the clouds and wash everything out, so I can’t quite tell where the sea meets the sky. I like that the air is so clean and crisp here that it almost hurts to breathe in too deeply. And I like being alone, and being able to concentrate on my thoughts, to hear nothing but the cry of seagulls and the overlapping waves.

It’s times like these that I feel a little adrift. Finishing my third year in college, I feel anxious. I’m not even quite sure what I feel anxious for. It’s just this weighing sense of uncertainty that colors everything I do. Because I feel like every step I take toward my goals, toward the things I want, takes me far out of my comfort zone, moving me closer to the terrifyingly imminent “real world.” I’m not sure I’m ready to surrender all of my foolish ideals just yet. I don’t want to accept the fact that soon I’ll have actual responsibilities and obligations to fulfill, to people and things other than myself.

And yet.

There’s also this increased hunger, this rising excitement and persistent optimism that I feel when I think about the future. Watching my friends prepare to graduate and start their new lives feels maddeningly almost-but-not-quite, and I’m impatient because it’s so close I can taste it. I want to see where I’m going to be in a year, and this not-knowing frustrates me. When I think about myself exactly one year ago, it’s amazing to see how much I’ve changed since. In a lot of ways, I barely recognize myself, but not necessarily with a negative connotation. In a lot of ways, I’m a person I didn’t know I’d be, in a place I didn’t think I could love, doing things I never would have believed I was capable of doing a year ago.

I thought this bird was so funny. He looked so disgruntled.

I thought this bird was so funny. He looked so disgruntled.

I finish all of my finals, papers, and projects tomorrow. And just like that, I’m a senior. In less than a month, I’ll be back in one of my favorite cities for the whole summer, with nothing to do but intern, work on my personal projects (hello, half-finished novel I’ve neglected since the beginning of the quarter), eat good food, and explore. Life is pretty beautiful. Even at 6:30 am on a quiet Sunday morning during finals week.

I have so much to do, and so many things approaching. And I can’t wait.