Ocean Beach Girl

She crouched on the corner playing her heart out, skinny jeans slung low, blue tattoos across her flat belly.

She belted out the words though as I walked by I didn’t catch them. Her voice tore through the air, hands flying over strings.
Somebody’s baby, was all I could think. Was she from Wisconsin or L.A.  or around the corner? Had she run away, been abused? Did her parents know where she was or not give a shit?
What brought her to a street corner in a scruffy seaside town? The sign propped up in her guitar case: traveling broke, anything helps.
Exchange more than three words and nobody adheres to type for long. This girl could’ve been my daughter, my sister, my friend, me.
Somebody’s baby was all I could think as I walked by, thinking about my own girls back home three thousand miles away –
Except it was I who left to be alone, backing away from my small charges. Where was my guitar? Where was my reflection? 
I could keep walking, I thought. Could belong here by the ocean with its succulents and surfers. 
I could run, too. Is this what it takes to tend to my own self? 
Who would my girls be if their mama didn’t come home again? Who would I be, abandoner of them who came through me?
What tempts us isn’t always love. Sometimes we have to step away, find a street corner far from home, belt out a tune, let it rip, travel broke, walk away from everything.
And then, maybe, we can see something clearly – what we’ve borne. See what we owe to the people we brought into this harrowing world.
It is our job to leave the door open for our babies, no matter how far they’ve roamed. 
And to come home, back home, to leave the door open to ourselves, to our own hearts and faces, that song tearing through the fog.
This, no matter how unforgivable we think we’ve been, no matter how hard it is to remember who we were once. Still somebody’s baby, still somebody’s ocean beach girl.

8 thoughts on “Ocean Beach Girl

  1. Shelli says:

    Jena, This is so beautiful and poignant. I can relate. Sorry to be away for so long, but I'm just too busy to read many blogs these days. (Which is good and bad.) Thanks for stopping by my blog. It's always a joy to see your name.


  2. deb says:

    My oldest, my son, has been kicked out of our home twice, been in prison for selling drugs, been in more trouble than I like to think about and yet he is still my baby.

    Free of drugs, he is always welcome in our home, and he always rests in my heart. He's family.


  3. Lisa says:


    (p.s. I'm sitting here in the office and Tom Petty's "You belong among the wildflowers…" just came on. Of course, it now makes me think of you and that perfectly timed post that spoke to me so deeply.)

    Thank you!


  4. Wild Roaming One (WRO) says:

    Man Jena, would I like to explore this more with you. I thought it was only me who dreamnt of another world…the other path…the other jouneys that might have been…

    …and then i think of my little one, and i can't imagine…but it doens't stop me from thinking…




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