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The Same Ocean

Updated: Mar 7


A sand dollar in focus with a blurred beach in the background.

Photo by Angelea Hayes


On my last day in Kaikoura, New Zealand,

I went out into the 40°F weather with a coat

But no shoes, rolled up my pant legs,

And walked out on the black stone beach as it began to rain.

When the water hit me, it was even colder than I had expected.

My feet quickly went numb. Cold droplets trailed down my face.

The glassy waters in this foreign place still shocked me

Just as much as they had a month prior, they were

Some of the brightest, clearest, bluest, and inexplicably greenest,

I had ever seen, like liquified sea glass. They were home

To the dusky dolphins I swam alongside, the wild seals

We were told to keep our distance from, and the Kiwi surfers

I would chat with at the pub, all whom I envied.

My feet were becoming bright red, so I figured it was time

To head back to the hostel to finish preparing for my departure.


Fourteen hours later, I find myself on Will Rogers State Beach

In Los Angeles. I no longer need a coat here.

Even though it’s in the middle of summer, the sky is shrouded

With June gloom. I peel off my socks, roll up my pants,

And wade into the murky water. I can’t see my feet.

Gazing at the rolling brown brine, I find it hard to believe

That this is just the other side of the same ocean, the great Pacific.

I feel a small rough thing brush up against my foot,

So I reach down and pick it up. It’s a sand dollar,

A whole sand dollar, miraculously unbroken. But it is not

The pristine, bone white thing one might marvel at in a gift shop—

Veiny and gray, I can’t help thinking how dull and dead it is.

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