In this excerpt from Amelia Desertsong’s upcoming memoir Cloud Pieces, we take a trip to Eastport, the easternmost city in the United States, where she reflects on the many summers she spent in the area and finds closure with her complicated past.
In spring, with snow still on the Downeast Maine ground, I pay a visit to the easternmost city in the entire nation. To go any further would mean giving myself up to the ocean. So many memories revolve around this general area, as just a few dozen miles north is where my family spent many years straight on vacation, only a dozen miles further north lies the border of our northern neighbors.
Why would I return after a dozen years to this place? Besides the obvious point of being easternmost in my own country, it’s as if the Atlantic herself is beckoning me to cast my past doubts, fears, and regret upon her vast expanse. Just a couple of years ago, I may have cast myself to her cares, too.
I know full well I’m not the same person I was when I last visited this part of Downeast Maine. At that time in my life, I was in between universities, unsure of the direction of not just my academic life, but that of my very existence. I am married now, happily, and my very nature is much more evolved. I now chose to stand upon the Eastport pier, just to get a bit of rarefied perspective.
From my vantage point at the pier’s edge, I recognize the Atlantic is still as mighty as ever, perhaps even more so with the warming of the ice caps several hundred miles north. I feel the emotions coming up my throat, as if I need to vomit the disgust I’ve stored up within myself. Much of the bile revolves around how so much of my life was wasted on those who I gave too many chances, many of whom likely didn’t deserve my cares and attentions at all.
I peer upon the salty bay and ponder its very properties. Such is the beauty of water. It’s both cleansing and destructive, reflective yet opaque. I know full well this is the sort of water that will not quench my thirst; it’s the very uncaring expanse, the bleeding edge which slowly laps against the concrete wall atop which I stand, that leaves me in awe of just how small my own concerns truly are. The machinations of my unconscious have brought me back here time and again, but only now do I truly comprehend the reasoning.
The easternmost edge of my own time on this magnificent blue marble creeps closer with each ticking second of my internal clock. The horizon grows nearer, ever so slowly, but certainly, yet even the minutely tuned time lapse will not be sufficient to make any meaningful observations. I must remind myself of these inevitabilities, lest I forget my own mortality is precious and wonderful, so I must strive to make the most of it.
My tears carry a bit of the salt within me back into the Atlantic’s embrace as they drop into the bay. Along with them comes at least some fraction of the pain I’ve bottled up over decades. As much as some would say these tears not cried harden our resolve, I find that they simply leave a bitter flavor behind, masking what shining lights may have visited me in yesteryear. The less salty, the less bitter I can make myself, the better.
So, I make the most of my short time here, and this scene will remain in my mind for years to come. It will remind me, for all that changes with the machinations of human society, the ocean will remain, a stark reminder that we are little more than fishes whose ancestors grew legs and took to the dry land seeking new adventures. I am but a single fish, cast aside from the school for not keeping in perfect formation; but fortunately for me, I finally found another lonely creature who proved herself deserving of my attention and cares.
It’s a bittersweet reflection, standing where I hadn’t for so many years, only to realize that part of me never left. Now I retrieve what little scraps were left behind, finally feeling just a little bit more complete, and a tiny bit wiser to my own condition.