One of my favorite things of late is playing in the ocean. I don’t surf. I don’t swim. I don’t put my feet in. I get in, and I play.
The water is relatively warm right now, so I wear a bikini and rash guard. More water licks my skin, and I love it.
I wade in slowly until the water reaches my hips. Then I dive under, and the first submersion always shocks my system.
The water begins to blend with my skin. I can’t tell where she ends and I begin. I turn onto my back and float. My toes emerge from the water. My arms stretch out along the water’s skin. My ears become submersed in the water, and she gently splashes my face. She holds me, bobs me, caresses me. I can hear the ocean floor, the movement of the sea, the arriving wave.
I come upright when the wave is near. I like to hang out right where the waves crest, and I love the big ones. Sometimes I dive deep under the wave and revel in the fast pull of its current, and sometimes I stay near the top and let the fast rush of heavy white-water smash into my face, stealing my attachment to my mind and placing me in a present moment. The waves come in sets, and sometimes I exhaust myself. Then I lay on my back again, and I look at the sky, or, my toes.
Sometimes I think about sharks and stingrays and freak myself out. I either pull my feet from the sand or place them firmly to the ground. Neither technique, I realize, will keep a shark from tasting me or a ray from stinging me. My belly clenches just thinking about them.
I sit with my fear. I let myself go too deep, to the place where the water is too dark and I can’t touch the ground. I let the huge waves engulf me without trying to control my experience. I let myself feel my fear of drowning, losing control, and feeling uncomfortable. I welcome the experience of an encounter with a shark. It hasn’t happened.
I do all of this at sunset. I wait until I have an hour left ‘til dark, and I get in. The sun is beautifully orange at that point; the sky majestically blue. The clouds are swirls of gold and pink, and the beach is still. Each time I emerge from under a wave, I watch the sun drop further and further until it disappears behind the marine layer. Then I tell myself that pretty soon, I’ll have to go.
But I linger. I stay in the ocean’s embrace, my one sanctuary right now, and I ask her to hold me. She does, with all her might.
Then I leave, dripping wet and in the dark. I wrap my towel around me and I walk barefoot to my car. Sometimes I peel off my wet clothes and put on my most comfortable sweats; sometimes I drive home in my bikini. I always turn on the heat and roll down my windows. I love the combination of warm and fresh air.
No matter my post-ocean dress, I always take off my rash guard. I put my arms over my head and peel it off. I love the feeling of more and more air licking my skin as more and more skin becomes free. I love to stand there for a moment and let my body breathe. I love to put my towel around my shoulders and to feel the magnificent combination of warm and cool; damp and dry.
I’m so grateful for this ritual right now. No matter how I am before I go in, I always emerge at peace. I always emerge grounded. I always emerge confident. I always emerge feeling sexy. I always emerge feeling strong. I always emerge feeling me. I appreciate the intimacy I have with the sea, and the gift that she gives me.
In love and liminality,
I seem to be a verb.
What do you mean, my friend?