The wide wide Pacific

by Alissa

A room-sized model Earth hangs from the ceiling at the Newcastle Museum. 

Whenever we go to the Newcastle Museum, we pass under this giant glowing globe and I pause for a few minutes to watch it rotate. The Edge of South America disappears, and then the vast blue bulk of the Pacific Ocean fills the horizon. My stomach drops a little and I suck in my breath and wait for land to reappear. It’s a long wait to New Zealand. Finally Australia appears, and the narrow green coastal strip where we now live, wrapped in thousands of miles of salt water.

Gaze at it with me.

On the maps I’ve loved before now, the Pacific has always been sliced in half and flattened, a mostly empty blue buffer around what really interested me: the colored outlines of countries. The puzzle pieces of the continents. The neatly placed letters of names of places I had been: Vancouver Island, Puget Sound, Oregon.

I’m trying to come to terms with the Pacific as a thing unto itself. Its water. Its curvature. The space it occupies on our round planet. Trying without luck to unhinge the sight of it from the ache of distance.