Touching Forever This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 3, 2017

I’m from the west. I was born and raised here, I’ve lived in this life, in this place, in this neighborhood, in this house since I was three years old and it’s what I know best. On my street is a row of houses and cars and sometimes a bicycle. Beyond those houses are more streets with houses and cars and bicycles and strollers of their own and it goes on and on. Beyond all of those are the mountains.
   I love the mountains. They make me feel safe and at home. All my life I’ve grown up watching the mountains and seeing them change with each new season. In springtime, they start out brown; powdery white snow melts and they shed their winter caps and give way to the rich brown soil beneath. As spring runs her course the brown gives way to green and life peeps out to give way to the colors of earth and forest. In summer, they turn brown again and then fade to gray as the life of spring becomes a thing of the past. In the fall they turn gray and violet, cool contrasts with the bright bursts of red, amber, orange and gold on the trees that line my familiar streets and then their colors fade again. In winter they are icy blue and white, the white winter caps again cover the summits and the cool blue of winter sets in around me. They change throughout the day too; in the morning, a strange blue-purplish gray silhouette against the tangerine sky marks the peaks as the sun comes up behind them and first casts it’s light, then the rays peak over and the light comes though and I see that the mountains have been awake for hours and the life of earth brown and forest green cover the rocky sentinels I’ve come to know. In the afternoon on clear days with no clouds they look dark blue and the shadows from the peaks are stark and sharp and my world is well defined, lines straight and easy to see and at dusk they melt into a rosy hue of sandstone and the rich light brown of sepia, different from the darker tones of the morning, they’re lighter, more relaxed as the world falls into peace and sleep and at night they are my guardian shadows watching over my street and the valleys they shelter. You see the mountains all the time in the west, they are a part of me, a part of my life, whenever I can turn and see those mountains who have long watched over me then I know I am home. To be safe under their watchful eyes and loving embrace, to see the sky above them and their familiar peaks above and around me.
   I’m not used to seeing the horizon.
   It's so limitless, so unending and forever. You go to the ocean and look up and down the coast. To the north is the water again, to the south is a familiar mountain, but you know that the ocean goes on forever after that and if you were to stand on that mountain you’d see more ocean. I love staring out into the constantly rolling waves. They too, shift colors according to the time of day, bright blue in the morning when the sky is clear, green and gray in time for the morning storms on the coast, grey and white water in the afternoon and silvery and pearl for sunset. My eyes can watch the waves for hours, ebbing and flowing, going in and out with them, but always they travel up to that horizon that I never see. It’s smooth and round, and I feel like I’m so close to seeing the entire world at once. The world is just over the horizon: I can just reach it, I can feel it, it’s there. I have no desire to see the world all at once, I only want to be a part of that horizon.
   One minute you’re looking out into the endless water, it rolls and ebbs and waves, you hear the surf crashing and you know that this goes on forever. Somewhere out there you see the line where the sky meets the endless sea and they become one, but you know they really don’t. The sea is forever and the sky is forever and they will always be together and part of each other, but each is its own kind of forever that will always go on for forever in its own way.
   I look back to the south and the mountain, very much like the ones I know from home: tall, strong, secure, home – I look back out into the ocean: wide, rolling, exposed, endless…back to the mountain: contained and safe – back to the ocean: open and free…I take a step into the surf. I stand there with my bare feet in the water, my arms and legs and face kissed and caressed by the sun, the wind teasing my hair. I can feel the sand shifting under me as the earth spins and the water comes in and goes back out into the ocean. I hear a gull cry, the surf crashes, spray lightly wets my sunburned face and I can taste and smell the salt and the pureness of the ocean. I spread my arms out as water rolls over my ankles and more spray rushes up to me: I’m touching forever. Forever with no beginning and no end and only the sound of peace and crashing waves: I’m touching it, which is maybe better than being a part of it, because it’s tangible, it’s real, and I know I’m there.
   I’m touching Forever.






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