Back to the Pacific
I grew up near the Pacific. I spent my first 22 years in San Diego. I didn’t live on the water, but I was close enough. My toes knew the sand. My body was at one with the waves. If there was an undertow (“under toad” in John Irving’s The World According to Garp), I learned that if I let my body relax. the riptide that pulled me down, away from the shore would release me from its grip. I would rise to the surface to gasp for air. I would breathe again. Although I am fair-skinned, my body absorbed the sun, making me a golden brown. The sunsets ended a perfect day, and we cooked saltwater-soaked corn and fish over a firepit.
My second 18 years in were Los Angeles. When the Santa Ana winds arrived with 110-degree temperatures, we would escape to El Matador Beach in Malibu. A glorious spot where you could move through sea caves to private beaches at the bottom of cliffs at low tide. Once, we almost got stuck at the beach during a huge wild fire that eventually burned 70,000 acres. We escaped just in time.
Then I spent many years in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico. No water, but you could see forever over an expanse where ancient oceans once existed.
I now live in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico. On the Bahia de Banderas, the Bay of Banderas. It is a marine mammal preserve, pristine blue and beautiful protected by jungle mountains and the grace of the Mexican government.
When I was a child, my father took me to the Point Loma Lighthouse around Thanksgiving to watch the whales pass. The view from the northern peninsula that defines the San Diego Bay has an expansive view west towards the Pacific. We looked through my father’s World War II binoculars. My father was a forward observer, directing fire in Patton’s artillery. The binocular’s crystal-clear view was rimmed with mysterious numbers that enabled my father to track the German soldiers’ location. He was honored with a Silver and Bronze Star and Purple Heart. I didn’t appreciate his bravery and skill until he was almost gone. I grew up during the Viet Nam War and saw the world in black and white. Now, these binoculars, a tool of war observed the most peaceful of mammals, the gentle humpback whales.
I have followed those humpback whales to the Bay of Banderas, where they journey both to give birth and mate. Humpback whales have an 11-month pregnancy and give birth every other year. They arrive in December from their long journey from Alaska . They leave on their return trip in late March/early April. They are marvels, gracing the Bay and our lives with rare glimpses of these gentle behemoths.
I never thought I would live with such intimacy with the tides of the vast Pacific, observe its cycles, and wonder at the splendor of the weather – sun, torrential rains, lightning, and drama. When I made theater and film, I was drawn to enormous themes observed in small cways. I still look for the tiny marvels with a deeper meaning.
I often “go big.” I am blessed to live in a beautiful home where I can see almost the entire Bay. The sunrises behind us. The sunsets at various points across the Bay. You can mark your caendar by it.
The Mexican people are so generous and welcoming, kind and resourceful. It has been a pleasure to enter their lives, observe their glorious rituals and learn about the traditions that mark their lives.
When I step outside, I see a new world waiting to be discovered. The view is ever-changing and glorious.
This is the perfect place to observe, reflect and make art.