I'm glad I included poems and essays in Gods of Water and Air that focus on my 1950s childhood in the southern California fishing town of San Pedro. Decades of life later, I still feel part of an immigrant community, with its self-discipline and traditions reeled in tight as a reel before casting a line to the waters. I learned diversity early: the simple fact of differences in language, skin, hair, eyes, religion, jobs. That diversity fascinated me in classroom, park, neighborhood, ballet studio, and beach. While this country still struggles with the practice of equality, I feel it in my bones and heritage. How we were one in the dark on the beach for the midnight grunion run. How Slavs from different towns firebombed each other's union halls over centuryies-old grudges. How differences can be nothing, depending on your vision and the amount of light. And there's always a lot of light at the edge of the ocean.