Half-a-lifetime ago I spent some time sitting alone on Ellwood bluffs looking out at the ocean.  Eight years of higher education in the rearview mirror, I knew quite a lot about some things, I could talk a good talk, I could write a darn good discussion section.  Tired.  Broken.    

Central to the view off the bluffs at Ellwood was an oil rig named Platform Holly.  The first time I saw that view in the 80s I thought how much better it would be if that nasty old rig wasn’t there.  

But after I’d lived in the neighborhood for some time, Holly and I slowly became friends.  The years of school had made me a thinker, a wonderer, a striver.  Holly taught me a different way of being.  Sometimes when I’d sit on the bluffs and look out at her something magical would happen.  My mind would stop its usual musings on Langmuir circulation, ocean-atmosphere gas exchange, fisheries ecology or other aspects of ocean science and an unedited sensory experience would open up.  I’d see what was there in front of me without any filters.  I’d feel the puffs of sea breeze on my cheeks, the smell of the ocean mixed with hydrocarbons from the natural seeps in the area, the sound of the ankle-high waves lapping on the beach.  Raw sensory experience without interpretation, it felt like seeing the ocean for the first time.  Amazing.  And no, there were no drugs involved, in case you were wondering. 

Sometimes I’d go the bluffs at night to see Holly’s lights dancing on the ocean.  She was so beautiful at night.  

A few days back I decided to look Holly up.  I’d hoped to see her again sometime.

I discovered she’d been decommissioned 5 years ago and is currently a dark, rusting, ghost ship soon to be removed completely.

I will miss her.

Published by Mike Deal

I am a husband and father, I am a scientist and teacher, I am a horseman. At night all the "I am's" go in a box and I shut the lid. I sleep like a dog.

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