DEAR OCEAN, I LOVE YOU (BUT YOU SCARE ME)
With feet sunk deep in wet Coquina sand…skin and hair caressed by
warm zephyrs, memories of the ocean beckon me to awaken them
once more. The ocean is a vast, beautiful, fearsome, sometimes violent and forever awesome thing. I am always enthralled by underwater images captured on film or video. The cornucopia of creatures and plant life is dizzying to behold. Having seen films of storms at sea, I shook in my shoes at the thought of being on a ship in the midst of such a storm. I love the ocean for its great depth and timelessness. Here I’d like to share a few memories:
I remember the many times waves of liquid brine rocked me, lifted me up and down
Curled up fetus-like I bobbed softly in the amniotic soup
Awash in its sun-warmed love, its soothing, calming, primordial waters
I imagined myself a single-celled creature from aeons ago. I saw other
similar creatures swimming alongside, over and under me.
There was a time when Poseidon tried to claim my life. I went for a dip at Atlantic Beach on Long Island. Locked in fatal coordinates too close to the jetty, the elusive shore called to me with a siren’s song. Poseidon’s hand reared up again and again, holding me fast. Everytime I headed for shore the undertow shut me down and then approaching waves forced me to turn to deal with them. Trying to ride the waves in even failed because of the undertow. Despairing arms flailed about as I grabbed short gulps of air. Fatigue enveloped me, urging me to give up. A wingless angelic lifeguard materialized out of nowhere to rescue me and the tug of war for my life ended.
Once a sunny family day at Jones beach was marred by an unfortunate event. A blue-green wall of a wave rose before us as we romped about in Poseidon’s playground. Despite urgings to swim up the wave, our daughter Sara panicked and made for the beach. Woo-hoooo we cried as we rose up and through its crest. It was exhilarating! Meanwhile the undertow’s mischievous fingers grabbed and dragged at Sara’s legs, slowing her down. The mini-tsunami arched up and crashed over her. All we saw were flailing arms and legs, flashes of brown hair, and swatches of the colors of her swimsuit, etc. We quickly went to help her. Visibly shaken, she stood there, her hair and body glistening with a coating of diamond-like grains of sand. To this day I don’t believe Sara ever went in any deeper than her ankles.
For 36 years I lived as a landlubber in upstate NY and Nevada, and rarely saw the sea. How I ached to be near it again. Fast forward to 2009. Now living 5 miles from the ocean in Florida is a dream come true. Coming full circle I return to the beach and go into the water, or not, depending on what mood Poseidon is in. I went in a few times and it was fine, but getting out was another story. Watching the undertow pulling at my feet and legs made me dizzy, and I slipped or fell. New waves came in and over me. I struggled to get up quickly but by then the undertow messed up my equilibrium again. As Poseidon played with me like a seaside toy, I rolled on the sand like a beached dolphin. A teenaged sea nymph of a girl drew near. I flagged her down with my outstretched arm calling for help. She came and helped me get up. I steadied myself and at last walked out. How pitiful was that scene? Sheesh! Getting old really does suck, doesn’t it?