i have never been an ocean girl. i grew up heading north for summer getaways. to an oasis that i always considered better than any pacific or atlantic coastline. i waterskied and wakeboarded. i swung from rope swings into icy waves rolling onto forested beaches. i had never seen point break, and the words kelly and slater were just characters from saved by the bell.
sure i’ve always idolized the blue crush chicks and dreamed about the day when i would look as cool in a bikini, but i accepted long ago that yoga pants and sports bras might be more my style.
but adventure breeds adventure.
you submit to the mountains, and suddenly you hear the sea calling.
so i went.
if we wait for the volume to get louder, sometimes we miss the message and go deaf instead.
a month of attempting to become that ocean girl.
waking up early and walking down to the beach. the air was often cool in the morning, before the summer sun rose over the tree line and burnt through the clouds. the streets were quiet, which meant a less dusty stroll from the hilltop to the shore.
nose to tail, rail to rail, waxing up with intermittent coffee sips. then heading to the sea with a zinc nose and bikini clad body.
unsure of the ocean’s rhythm, i sat on some driftwood and watched the locals pick their waves. it takes time. to read the water. to feel the pulse. to understand the power.
after a month, i was just starting to sense the unspoken words she was saying.
shuffle through the shallow sand with board in hand. the water is warm. a big set rolls in and quickly reminds me, this is the ocean. full of salt. a mouth full of salt.
i often forget. i walk into a giant body of water and just assume it will taste like lake michigan. here it tastes like tears and sweat. it dries a thin layer of seasoning on your skin. it clears out your sinuses with every accidentally inhale and leaves your eyes softly burning.
will i ever learn to love that feeling?
paddle paddle paddle past the break. then i always need a rest. legs dangling straddled on either side of this floating extension of self. sting rays, fish, and a whole world living beneath you. each trying to remain unaware of the other.
for most surfers, satisfaction comes from catching the wave. but what about this moment? this special space where you are peacefully waiting to see what gift she will give you. looking out over the horizon tuning into her rhythm. the sun warming your skin. the salt drying on your lips. i could wait there all day.
but when you sense something good rolling in, it’s time to move on. paddle paddle paddle paddle and pop up. turning down the face and staying just ahead of the break. letting your legs inform the movements. splashing back into the waves with the biggest shit grin plastered across your face.
or maybe not.
paddle paddle paddle paddle and pop up. get slammed into the tumbling circle of angry h2o that has no care for your well-being. breath held and body avoiding injury. panicking to surface and find safety, if only for a split second.
her beauty only intensifying as you slowly swim back out for round two.
i will always be a lake girl, but the sea has left its mark. found its way into my soul. testing the limits of my fear. reminding me that i am powerless.