Considering I am not a very good swimmer and I rarely visit the beach (despite having lived next to it all my life), I guess it’s quite surprising that the ocean is present in almost everything I write. I began to notice this last year, and it’s something I still exhibit subconsciously, whether it’s the central theme of a poem, or just a little simile. The ocean seems to invite itself onto my page. I don’t even like the ocean that much! I dislike how the cold slides around you when you step in, and that one time I had a pet hermit crab, he escaped his cage and a week later we found him kneading his way across the tub, probably suspecting of my contempt for sand. So, if the ocean isn’t necessarily a place of comfort for me, I thought, why are eels, seafoam, and anemones so often laced in my writing?
When walking through a lively street, clotted with powerlines and cement, it is easy to forget that at any point on the San Francisco peninsula, you cannot be any more than roughly four miles away from water. In Pacifica, where I live, literally everything is named after the ocean (“Oceana High School” “High Tide Cafe” etc). I only noticed it when one of my SOTA friends pointed it out, and I realized that the ocean is such a consistent element in my life that sometimes, I may even take it for granted (as cliche as that sounds). But on another note, how can I forget something so vast, and when I see it’s name advertised on every street sign? Maybe this is where my original question comes in. It is compelling to think about how our environments influence our subconscious, and this can be both in a physical sense and in a place of mind. I noticed that I found it slightly difficult to write this past summer, cooped up in my bedroom with just my dog and a blank Word doc for company. It only took a few days into the school year to sync back, and I suspect it is because of the creative stimulants that SOTA offers. As writers I think it is vital we acknowledge our surroundings because in more ways than one, we are products of our environments, hence what we craft will reflect it.
Angelica Joy LaMarca, class of 2018