Last Sunday morning I went for a surf. The ocean was warbling and full, and it bobbed me and my board up and down, up and down.
As I sat in the ocean, I considered how to describe my experience. I fake-typed instructions to my readers, telling them to imagine a full waterbed and the way it would move if two people laid across it, making passionate, wild love.
The image was clear and vibrant in my head, and I wondered, how many people have actually seen a waterbed?
However limited the description, it seemed to fit.
As I moved up and down at the command of the ocean’s breath, I cried. I cried over the loss of my friend, and I cried as I mourned the conclusion of my recent trip to Kenya. Both were great trips, and I am sad that they’re over. I’m also ecstatic that they happened.
It’s one of the great contradictions of life, isn’t it? We’re often happy and sad at once. We’re “had.”
After I cried, I sat still, just me and the heaving mother, my husband 50-feet away, engaged in his own oceanic love affair. Sea, you see, is his first wife.
He looked over at me, the sun in his eyes, and me a simple silhouette. He waved. I waved back, my feet dangling from my board.
I turned to catch a wave. I paddled, I pushed, I popped up. My feet landed, but the ocean launched me into the air, its warble laughing in my face. The ocean lovingly sighed.
Warbles happen when the tide is such that waves push into shore even as the shore pushes waves to sea. The result is an awkward dance between to and fro, in and out, up and down. Warbles, I like to imagine, are the ocean’s way of reminding us that life is unpredictable.
Surfing is the most unpredictable sport in which I’ve engaged. The ocean always moves. It is never the same. The board, surely concrete, moves as the ocean moves. I, as concrete as physical form allows, attempt consistency: I paddle, I arch my back, I pop up, and I squat with precision and intention. I dig in my feet, and I push. But my mind is never the same, and my body often has ideas of its own. My interaction with the ocean, it seems, is always a reflection of my internal state.
Surfing puts me in a liminal space. Each paddle out is new. Each wave is distinct. Each pummeling has its own flavor. I never know what will happen. Even if I sit, certain of my next moves, the interaction between the ocean, my board, and my body are entirely unpredictable. Beautifully so, I’d say.
Thank you ocean. Thank you.
In love and liminality,