I swam naked in the freezing ocean…

That’s a true story, but we’ll get to that later…

“I wrote you a love letter and then tossed it into the ocean. Now only my soul and Poseidon knows what it said.”

I wrote that yesterday while sitting on the edge of the Pacific Ocean in southern Washington State. Cape Disappointment, for those who are interested. It seemed a fitting place to end up that morning.

I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let me back up…

I fell for someone. Hard. She was fantastic and wonderful and like any other bastards dumb sick in love I poured over the idea of true love and all of that other bullshit.

Again… I need to back track some more. My timeline is getting confused (damn you Doctor Who!).

I often wonder if I’m a hopeless romantic or just truly hopeless.

Saturday morning I had talked with my ex-wife. I tried talking to her about her having an affair and why. It didn’t go well. As a Buddhist you would think I’d just let it go, but as I’m a different kind of Buddhist I guess I just needed an answer to this one, seemingly simple, question. In short I was told that over thirteen years she never really loved me, and that I just wasn’t worth it. This crushed me. In thirteen years I loved her every day of every month of every year. I’m honestly over the affair, and the divorce (within reason I suppose. Does anyone ever really get over that?), but what crushed me was why she would spend so many years with me if what she said was true? Just when I thought that things couldn’t get worse the girl I fell for… Well, I just fell. Nothing else needs to be said.

So what did I do? What any other writer/photographer should do. I impulsively jumped in my car and drove to Rialto Beach near Forks, WA. It was 10 PM when I got there, and big surprise cold and raining. I took this photo –


I took a look at the weather report. Rain and fog. The story of my life. I guess I should pack it up, and drive five hours back home. Right? Yeah, not this guy. I decided to head south. I figured I’d hit Astoria, OR just in time for breakfast. I was right. I headed to the docks first. I wanted to get some early morning shots of the sea lions. The docks were blocked off, so I shot this instead –

As I was preparing to get in my car I hear my name called. Now, since I’m at this point running on coffee, Redbull, and haven’t eaten in almost a day and a half I assumed it was Davy Jones, or a Siren from the deep. I was wrong on both. I know a lot of other photographers in Washington and Oregon. Many of them I keep in touch with, others I don’t. Here was one that I haven’t seen since I was a hundred pounds heavier. Her name is Stacey.

Stacey and I once spent hours chatting about landscapes, and our love of film over digital. She had a long time boyfriend, and I was married. Never once did we entertain the idea of being together. Yet by some stroke of serendipity here we were. 7:00 AM PST in Astoria standing ten feet apart. She wasn’t sure it was me at first. I do look a little, well thiner. We hugged, and just looked at each other. She told me she’d heard about the divorce. I told her about my day before. We exchanged numbers, and she went on her way.

Here’s the thing about the Universe. People do not cross your path by happenstance. I don’t believe in fate, but I do believe the Universe has reasons. Even if we don’t see them.

She sent me a text about an hour later asking if I was still in the area. By then I was at Cape Disappointment writing the verse above. She asked me to meet her in Long Beach, WA for the Loyalty Days celebration. Since I was only fifteen minutes away, I said “Why not?” I love Long Beach anyway. We walked around and talked a lot. We went into Marsh’s Free Museum, ate salt water taffy, and I shot these –


I’m having a lot of confusing feelings at this point. I felt my heart had been crushed twice in one day, my perception not their intention (I hope). I kept my feelings to myself. Honestly, I’m an idiot, and I always stick my foot in my mouth.

We decided to walk to the beach. I’ve never seen the beach deserted. I guess Loyalty Days catches everyone’s attention there. It’s good though. As humans we need that feeling of solidarity sometimes. Nostalgia and solidarity are important to our souls, in my opinion. So here we are. Walking next to each other, but inside I felt like I was still a million miles away. Why was the Universe so cruel that it would toss me around the way it has, and them throw this beautiful woman in the mix at a time when I couldn’t possibly fall for her or develop feelings for her?

The next thing I knew we were at the edge of eternity. The sand and ocean met like two lovers. Constantly holding on to one another just to be forced to let go. Time after time, again and again. All I could think of was my feelings, my selfish broken heart.

Stacey asked: “Tanis? What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but you were afraid of it?”

I’m not really afraid of much. There was one thing I’d never done. I’d always been really heavy, and ashamed of how I looked (that really hasn’t changed much with the loose skin and all lol), but before she could say another word I was taking my clothes off and walking into the ocean. I’d never skinny dipped. Never even chunky dunked. I can’t swim. I realized that two of the things I honestly feared were staring me in the face. The fear of drowning and the fear of being seen naked, but here I was, naked in front of a virtual stranger, walking into the ocean, and not a single care in the world.

She was stunned. At first. Then off came most of her clothes and she jumped in. We didn’t go out far, and as soon as we seen someone coming we hurried and got dressed, but it was fun and exciting and fantastic! It was really something my soul needed. Not for Stacey to see me naked, I kinda regret that, but getting naked and jumping in the ocean. We walked back towards town laughing and joking. I shot these on the beach –



Stacey and I actually know a lot about each other. We had been online friends for years. What I didn’t know was just a few months ago she was left at the alter by her long term boyfriend. We sat at the picnic table above and talked for an hour, freezing and covered in sand I might add. She left her car with a friend and she invited me to her place for a shower (alone!) and lunch. Eggs Benedict. Maybe my favorite egg dish. She knew this, friends remember these things. Afterwards we talked a lot. She wanted me to kiss her, but I couldn’t.

You know that feeling you get when you feel like you’re a black hole and anyone who comes close gets sucked in, and ruined? Yeah…

I told her how I felt. I told her that we lived too far apart. I told her the truth. That’s my problem sometimes. I always try to tell the truth. It’s easy to lie, and to get what you want from those lies. What about the people the lies hurt though. She’s truly a fantastic woman. She’s not the woman for me though. Not right now. She understood. Friends always understand. For now all I can be is a friend to her.

(I might hold onto a little dream. I am a hopeless romantic)

But I wouldn’t lie to her and say otherwise. She wanted me to stay, but I knew it was time to leave. All chapters in a good story need to end. How else can we start the next chapter? I’m still in one of those chapters. Introducing a new character is both hazardous and unkind. We hugged goodbye, kissed each other on the cheek, and said a long silent goodbye while she was holding my index and middle finger on my right hand.

I got in the car, and started to drive. I found myself at the docks again. Crying and on Twitter (hey, I wasn’t drunk at least) when one of my Twitter friends gave me the idea for a short story (coming soon) and the will power to write this blog. I had local policeman walk up to my car. I explained I wasn’t broken down, that I was just broken and needed to write. He smiled and told me to be safe.

Oregon cops understand the heart.

Forty five minutes outside of Astoria Stacey sent me a text. It simply said:
“Please, come back.” I couldn’t. I pulled over and called her. I had to explain that I couldn’t be with her, not right now.

How do you explain to someone fantastic that you’re a broken and lost mess?

I think she understood. My mind is somewhere else, with someone else. Someone from Portland. And when I fall I fall down hard. At my age I should have learned by now not to wear my heart on my sleeve. But here I am. This is me. I don’t want to change that.

I don’t honestly know if I’ll ever feel like I’m not broken, and I meditate on it a lot. Maybe it’s just who I am. However, even though I feel broken I also feel complete. It’s like those broken pieces make me whole. They help me understand, and show compassion in ways that I wouldn’t be able to if they weren’t there. I am who I am. I love easily. I care too much when no one else seems to.

And I’m ok with that…

Here are a few more photos. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: tanisjustice

Oh… And I didn’t get to fly my kite!


Part 2? On Running Away