When I was 22 I fell in love for the first time. I couldn't believe the magic that I felt was everywhere around me. When I tried to explain it to the boyish object of my affection, the only way I could describe it was
"I feel the same way about you as I feel about water."
To me that is what love is.
To this day, nothing has driven me in my life and my work more than my love of the sea.
I grew up on the North Shore of Oahu. My bedroom was closer to the Pacific than it was to the living room. My entire adolesence, every frustration and every horrowing (now hilarious) pain was always washed away by ocean waves. The sea has always been one of my closest confidants.
When I came to New York after graduating from Kahuku High School I couldn't sleep at night without the pounding of the waves on the sand. I longed for the Pacific the way I longed for my family. I am always homesick for the ocean.
When 9/11 happened I was close enough to watch the towers in the distance. I walked in Forte Green Park and had ash fall into my hair like snow. I felt the hollowing absence everywhere I went. I felt like nothing could ever be OK again. In my pain I was angry at the nation for feeling like they owned this tragedy. It had happened right in front of me, in my adopted home. How could anyone not watching in person feel the pain I felt?
On September 14th I went to Coney Island and sat on the boardwalk for hours, quietly staring into the horizon. That day my love affair with the Atlantic officially began. Through every heartbreak, and every outside stress, personal or public tragedy, nothing ever heals me like the reassuring calm of the sea.
This spill in the Gulf weighs on me like nothing has in years. I try not to think about it, and then feel guilty for protecting myself from that pain. When it washes over me it feels unbearable.
For the first time, I truly understand National Tragedy. I see how it touches all of us as Americans.
I hurt to hurt the Ocean. I realize that my loss is not the loss of fisherman and families watching the damage happen moment to moment. My home is not immediately threatened but it feels as if my heart is. I love the sea. Nothing is more sacred to me. We can help in little ways though we may be far away.
This Baby Mermaid illustration will be up for purchase with lots of other amazing art donated at
later this week you'll be able to find larger prints of it at Etsy's Help the Gulf Coast Shop.
In both cases 100% of the money raised goes to Gulf Coast charities.
Please pull out your wallets or your paintbrushes and contribute to this cause in your own way. With a problem this big, we all need to do every little thing we can.