As a believer in strong communications. I have used several mediums to send written messages to this end all my life. Well, at least as long as I have been writing, and although unable to be my reality I actually do not remember not ever writing.
Today sending my own hand made greeting cards, has been another way I love to communicate that “I am thinking of You” to those in my life. There was even a time when I was known to send flat smooth shaped rocks, I would use embossing powders and stamp one word messages: Balance, Dream, Energy, Bliss, It was a really an enjoyable way to communicate on occasions, surprising people with an odd message was great fun. and hey, it was the 1970’s. I soon realized however that the rocks were costing me more in postage than I was paying for just stationary and the concept of free was soon lost on me. Family and friends were thoughtful and kind enough to see them as gifts, and most rocks are still in use by my family & friends in their homes, & offices. I even spotted one in a daughter’s purse. Good friends are hard to find, and when they look past any eccentricities cherish them always.
The most different way that I have used to send a message was in a bottle. Literally. I also had no clue who the marooned intended islander would be, which this made the experience even more fascinating, Maybe even with a sense of wonder I went into this. Whoever happened upon the bottle would be my recipient. I loved the randomness of it.
The idea that I would finally set sail a message in a bottle was born out a conversation with my friend Lynn on my 39th birthday. Lynn is one of the other three Dirty Mother;s in my life. who I have been friends with since we were babies. We rarely missed sharing birthdays with one another while our daughters were growing up. A perfect justification for girlfriend road trips Not quite Thelma and Louise, but close.
The thought of sending a message in a bottle actually became more than an idea and a plan on my 39th birthday, sitting crossed legged in the sand on a favorite stretch of a quiet Oregon beach. After years of saying I would one day send a message in bottle the plan was put into slow motion. We discussed what we would be doing on our 40th birthday’s. Lynn born in the summer of 1955, I the spring, We had been celebrating one another birthdays together for a couple of decades already. It soon become our plan that I was going to set sail a message in a bottle to commemorate my 40th birthday. Same friend would be along, same Oregon beach, Why would we change something that had worked for us for 22 years? We made our bi-annual pilgrimage to the beach on my birthday in the spring and hers in the summer.
After sharing a bottle of Oregon wine from the Nehalem Bay Winery as we were picking up the trappings of an impromptu dinner it occurred to me that I had no need to wait until I was 40 yrs old to set a message sailing. I had a perfect vessel to set sail right there and then in my hand. The Oregon Pinot Noir empty wine bottle There were certainly no rules about sending a message in a bottle that I was aware of, and I was not tied to it needing to be done on my 40th birthday. I really just wanted to send the message via a bottle for its ship. My 39th birthday was a fine and suitable excuse.Send my 30’s decade sailing was a perfect sentiment. I have loved things that are serendipitous all my life, so why not just go with the spontaneity of it?
With the help of a very kind woman at the hotel we were given paper & pen as well as a candle. I had no clue why I would need a candle. It had to be explained to me. I learned that the candle was to seal the bottle and its cork with a water tight seal to keep it from filling and sinking. How brilliant people are! “Someone has obviously done this before me.” I commented out loud to the hotel desk clerk. I think she was simply humoring me because she just smiled an all-knowing smile and politely said nothing.
Writing my message was simple and to the point. I simply said who I was, why I set sail this message, the date, from where the vessel parted ways with land, and my own home address. Rolled up into a tight cylinder the paper message slid into the neck of the bottle just fine and unfurled itself a bit inside to round out and fill the belly of the bottle. Placing the cork back inside the lip of the bottle and over old newspapers we dripped the hot melted wax from the lit candle to seal the seam. We let the seal dry, and repeated the process a total; of three times. All the while Lynn & I are speculating how far the bottle will get before being found on shore. Japan Maybe? We occasionally will find glass floats from Japan our shores so it was a possibility.
The hardest part of it the whole experience was getting the tide to take the bottle out to sea on the other side of the break. The bottle kept coming right back on to shore in front of my feet, every time we attempted to throw it out into the ocean as far as possible. It was never far enough.. Even with this part of the Oregon coast being notorious for “Under Toes” this message in the bottle returned to the sandy beach over and over. Lynn and I were both becoming more frustrated by the moment seeing it roll back onto the beach. each time we launched it. Now what? In mid March the water temperature of the Pacific Ocean on the west border of the state of Oregon is typically no warmer than just above freezing which is not conducive for wading past the ankles. Even for a couple of Oregon girls. The beach quiet and pretty deserted this time late afternoon in March.
Heroes come in many disguises, Walking out from the tall sea grass which hides the parking, carrying a surf board came a tall lean kid with a healthy tan and long har. He was not a Oregon boy with that tan. Maybe he was just an illusion? Oregon does have its rare surfer despite the just above freezing water temperature and we seemed to be in luck this day. A young man who very much looked like a California boy ( later learning he was ) who we learned had been watching our struggles from his car. I imagined him laughing from his car but that was not where i was going.
This young man became my hero for the day.
After a very brief few words from my newly proclaimed hero, the surfer took my bottle tucked it under his chest between himself and his board and he paddled his way out past the breaking tide into calmer waters. As he started paddling out faster we could see him look over his shoulder, maybe judging the distance from shore. He finally stopped, seeming to like the spot, he looked back at the shore line, gave us a high thumbs up sign, then pitched that bottle as far as he could throw. I lost in sight of it. We waited for him to ride a wave back to where we’re standing, the three us watched and waited for the message in the bottle to also come back ashore. yet again.
My message in a bottle was on its maiden voyage.
( Of course I could not resist this song )
I thanked this kind and thoughtful young man. My message in its bottle was really now on ts way.
For several weeks I watched the mail every day hoping for some kind of word. Nothing came. Life soon took over all other abstract thinking which this had been certainly. I soon just chalked it up to a great experience a fun afternoon, something Lynn and I enjoyed together, then I shined on whether I would ever know where my message landed or mot. I got on with life, or it got on with me.
It tool almost 9 months for me to receive a reply, but I did . My message was found on the coast line in southern California,. The receiver, a young woman sent me a small note via the US Postal Service but she respectively declined to divulge her real name or home town. I appreciated this, I really just cared about knowing was where it had landed. This I knew was on a beach in San Diego California. From Rockaway Oregon south to San Diego California in 9 months.
The “marooned islander” who received my message gave me so much more in her note she sent then a geographical location. Ironically (or maybe not so much) this woman had done a similar thing in her 20’s while on her honeymoon. She said sadly they never did hear about their message being found and it had always stayed with her that maybe one day she would still hear something. She shared with me that when she found my bottle it was such a strong connection for her but she thought her friends must were actually playing a trick on her. She could not believe this was a genuine message that she happened upon.
Then she shared with me in her own letter the most awe-inspiring, and astonishing piece of personal information. Paraphrasing; her letter; she explained briefly and without any details that her marriage had ended just 6 weeks prior to finding my message in a bottle. The letter went on to tell me that although she had never found where her message went that she had sent, but she knew now that it was meant all along for to find my message. Me message, she shared with me had set her heart free. She knew “from that point on she was going to be okay.”
All from one little communication sent in message in a bottle?
Communications may be the most powerful expression of love for one another we have, Have you reached out and touched someone lately with a letter, a note, or maybe even a message in a bottle?
Go on, go ahead and do it today. Some one there waiting to hear from you.