Sea Glass Hearts

Elaina Avalos, fiction, author, #amwriting

I am made of salt and sand and the deep jade green of the Atlantic. The salt air courses through my veins. This place, these waves, the sea glass and shells with rounded edges, beaten constantly in the surf, are the pieces and places of my very soul. The heady scent of the ocean air tells me I’m finally home, though I’m not at all conscious of having lived near this shore. In the setting sun of a July evening, the billowing thunderheads in the distance play with the sun. Shadows and light dance on the surface of the ocean at once bringing out the sparkle, and then moments later shrouding the light in darkness. “So this is it?” I ask no one. Home. The word and all of its implications fill me with competing emotions. I look back towards the car, parked a hundred yards away in the parking lot of the town’s traffic circle. It’s the center of this beach town, on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina.


I turn back to the ocean and breathe deeply, taking it all in. Just up the road is the house I bought, sight unseen, sitting first row, pointed towards the sea. I have spent a lifetime, nearly thirty-eight years, dreaming of what it would be like to find the place where I began, to return to my beginnings. To the place where I had been knit together in my mother’s womb. When I was a child, before I had been adopted and floated between countless foster and group homes, I made day trips to the beaches of Southern California. In the course sand of those crowded beaches, I convinced myself that I might as well have been a mermaid for all I really knew. One thing I knew for sure, in the deepest part of my being? I belonged to the sea.

Somehow, as I would stand there, as a kid, wearing my church charity last year’s style bathing suit, I knew that the sea called me, and would continue to call me . . . home.

Written By Elaina M. Avalos

Inspiration & Imagination: Kudzu, Lightening Bugs, and Farm Stands

elaina avalos, inspiration and imagination, beaufort nc, new bern nc,

It’s summer in the south. I know. Not news, right? Growing up in Southern California, you’d think a hot, humid, and rainy summer would not be one of my favorite things. But it so is.

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The summers of my childhood were filled with beach trips, camping along the 5 freeway at San Onofre or with my grandparents in San Clemente. Summers in SoCal are beach days on the right side (extremely important) of the Huntington Beach pier, professional surfers & volleyball players, surfers changing into or out of their wet suits on the side of the road. SoCal summers are KROQ and the Santa Ana winds, wildfires, and the cool marine layer that rolls in off the ocean that makes you pull out a sweatshirt, as the temperature dips.

Summer in Southern California is exactly what it should be and precisely what you’d expect.

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And yet, I didn’t know what I was missing until I moved to the coast of North Carolina. The humidity may be soul-sucking gross at times, but there’s something very . . . healing in the scorch of the sun and the wet air.

A few years ago, I house sat for a couple I’ve known since 2001. This is the second time I’ve made their home, my home, for a few months. After a year lease ended – they were getting ready to take a long trip. The timing was perfect. They live on my favorite river.

Abby the Wonder Dog & I would sit for hours on the back deck – even on the hottest, most humid evenings, watching the river. When I really needed to soak in sun and heat, we’d sit on the stairway at the top of their berm.

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My trusty buddy right beside me – soaking it all in, too.

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There’s something so cleansing about the humidity as it seeps in. Don’t believe me? Try it some evening. Sit quietly, as it settles in around you. Somehow, I feel the day drain off and clarity seep in.

As the summer wears on, the green grows even deeper than it was in spring – as if this was even possible. Nature somehow defies what is already the glorious beauty of green to be even better – deeper – as the kudzu spreads through the jungle of trees.

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The spanish moss, set against the green is breathtaking. The tobacco, corn, and soy bean fields are constant reminders – as I drive between home and the store, or home and work – of how different life is now – from the concrete jungle of my youth.

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Growing up, I dreamed of seeing lightening bugs (aka fireflies for the rest of the country) but didn’t see a single one until I was an adult. How is that possible? How is it possible for you to live a full life without the pop of white light, that brightens the humid evenings? You can’t, I tell you.

Farmer’s markets are more popular today than ever. And though new farmer’s markets have popped up here in recent years, the farm stand is tried & true. They’re a joy and a favorite weekend stop. I have my favorites. I’d go every day if I could.

friendly market, morehead city, elaina avalos, green tomato, chasing hope, chasing dreams

 

My favorite purchase every year – for the brief time I can get them – is green tomatoes. I learned to make fried green tomatoes about four years ago – in a kitchen overlooking the Neuse. It’s probably one of my all time favorite dishes (just behind homemade enchiladas and tamales).

green tomato, chasing hope, chasing dreams, elaina avalos

 

The truth is, June and July are the best kind of summer. The days are long and there is so much to soak in. By August, I’m ready for the routine of autumn to settle in. The beauty of the long days wears at you a little.

You begin to long for open windows and cool days. If you’re anything like me, you start wishing it was football season before July has fully let go of you. Growing up with a perpetual summer, I don’t know if you fully appreciate the true beauty of the seasons as they change.

Though August erodes my patience as it grows hotter, I’m convinced I’d never appreciate fall in the way I do, without the scorcher of August. Isn’t that just like life, though? As I think about the beauty of summer as it barrels toward fall, I am certain that each season has a beauty of its own.

It may not be roasted peanuts from a farm stand in Cedar Point, beauty – but it’s beauty just the same. I’m grateful for both seasons of my life – SoCal’s palm tree, surfer, Huntington Beach beauty – and the perfect beauty of a tobacco field against the deep blue Carolina sky.

 

Newsletter

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Eastern NC is my Muse

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I once wrote a blog post about how my fiction writing abilities dried up when I moved back to California, from North Carolina. When I finally got back to NC in 2012, my muse? Totally revisited me. P.S. If you’re a writer and haven’t seen “The Muse” with Albert Brooks & Sharon Stone . . . you MUST.

Chasing Hope  is set in the small coastal town of Beaufort. Beaufort won my heart in 2001 when I moved to Eastern Carolina the first time. In 2012, Beaufort won a little contest which named it the “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel. Read a feature here.

It’s a special place and I still dream of owning a house downtown. Someday . . . maybe I will!

Here are a few photos of this gorgeous little town.

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The Color Green

trees, woods, jungle, eastern carolina, eastern north carolina
Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise

– Rich Mullins

I spent much of the day yesterday dilly-dallying and working in my yard {might have also had a mint julep or two}. I loved it. My hands were caked with potting soil, as were my clothes, but it was a great feeling to work all day at making my deck pretty, after nearly a year here.

I’ve spent about ten months in this house. I won’t lie . . . I have hated pretty close to every second of it.

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The house is too small. The neighbors are way too loud. I can smell the hog farm about half of the week, all day – from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. The lighting is terrible. Terrible. The house is very dark. On and on my complaints have gone.

I started looking at houses online. I was determined to move when my lease was up. The noisy neighbors and their dogs were my last straw. And then . . . something happened. Spring? Wisdom? Discernment? Maybe a combination of all three.

I drive into my driveway every evening after work and there’s this adorable house in front of me – it looks like a cabin in the woods. It makes my heart all girly and squishy. I walk out onto the back deck with my dog and all I can see is . . . green.

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My backyard is beautiful. It’s huge. And it’s green. And it’s beautifully shaded – there’s almost too much shade. Funny things grow back there in all that shade. Just behind my fence is a jungle of even more green with a creek running alongside.

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The jungle behind the house!

Suddenly, within the last 2-3 weeks I’ve come to the realization that I don’t want to move. I love this yard. I love the overwhelming green that reminds me of life, grace, and of dreams coming true. When I was a little girl, I used to look at picture books and dream away about where I wanted to live and what I wanted that magical place {far away from Orange County, California} to look like.

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It looks like here. It looks like this. It looks like what I’m seeing out my office/guest room window as I type this very minute. This house is where I belong for now. My little cabin in the woods is home. And while it is, I’m going to soak up all the green that I can.

Speaking of green. Growing up in Southern California, one doesn’t realize just how much green you’re missing out on. I grew up on a busy, loud street right in the center of Orange County. There was more asphalt and concrete than green.

Trees? We had them. But not like this. I lose count of the number of trees in my yard when I try to count. It’s hard to grasp as a native SoCal’er just what is out there beyond that Shangri-La. I even lived in the desert of California for a couple of years. Green in that town of Joshua Tree is really a special sight to behold when you lay your eyes upon it. My neighbor’s yard had a huge pine tree and I would sit for ages on those desert windy days, just to hear the sound of the wind through the pine, hankering for the East Coast and green.

Green. Deep, rich, life-giving green. It’s the first color we see after a long winter. The first buds of leaves in the spring are almost fluorescent they’re so green. It’s nearly impossible to give up the beauty of spring as it trails into summer. So, no. I don’t want to leave just yet. I dreamed of this place. So here is where I will write. And this is where I will wait.

Office

So here I sit. At my Grandma’s desk, looking out at the green – writing. No, I’m not going anywhere right now. I’ll stay right here with the color green. This is where I will write. And this is where I will wait.