Follow the Birds to Get to the Other Side

Mediterranean seagulls
Low flight over water
To have lived, learned, loved, laughed, cried, worked, achieved, failed, won and lost on two continents is both a blessing and a curse, and not a small feat—trust me on this one!

I don't, consciously at least, make comparisons about how doing "this or that" in Europe is different than in the States. Or how even the dingiest beach in Greece is superior to anything on the Atlantic shoreline. Or how Times Square in New York City can take on any and all squares of the old continent and win hands-down as the most fascinating parcel of limited square footage.

The Parthenon in Athens is probably more significant to world heritage than the Statue of Liberty, but that is irrelevant when you're leaning against the railing by the pier at Battery Park around the time the sun calls it a day in colorful dramatics.

It would take volumes just to enumerate such comparisons, let alone describe them and justify the preference—one way or the other. So, I don't, if only to avoid additional self-inflicted mental burden.

seagull in the Mediterranean Sea
Flying above the rest
But "apples and oranges" do have a way of creeping into the unconscious, asking for a comparison, each striving to be the entry of choice. Two worlds afar, each claiming a position of dominance in images, gestures, colors, shapes, and feelings of the conscious mind.

For that dilemma, I have contrived little defense mechanisms that bridge the distance, both real and figurative. Find the similarities, anchor points you can suspend your identity crisis bridge on, and you're halfway there. Now you can look both ways, enjoy the view, and traverse the distance to either side. Stay perched there and take it all in.

seagull posing
Making sure the camera gets the good side!
And speaking of perched, I find anchors in the most unexpected quarters, in the most unsuspected world citizens—seagulls!  These winged global links are the same everywhere; they are the absolute rulers of sea and sky.

Not many creatures can claim that!

Whether flying carefree over blue Greek seas, waddling among swimmers on a crowded East Coast beach, or displaying admirable endurance—affinity even—to the elements of the most wicked New York winter days,  seagulls have a universal look and outlook.

Jones Beach, Long Island  NY seagulls
The seagull's strut at Jones Beach, NY
seagulls on frozen lake
Smooth landing on ice
I've never felt as much at ease in my mental travels between two continents as I have when watching seagulls at play—be it in the sky, on water, or on land.

It is as if they are putting on a show for my benefit, telling me that there is continuity in distance, that the heart is the only permanent residence, and that worlds afar are meant to be cherished, not to sulk over.

It makes sense that they understand; after all, they too are travelers of both short and long distances.

Not that it is always that complicated.
Sometimes, the figurative becomes literal; seagulls don't always fly to their destination.  

They give their wings a rest and simply walk across the street to get to the other side.

seagulls crossing to the other side
Giving the wings a rest