On a hike to Onomea Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii, I watched a little boy play in the rocks near the water, his parents close by. A surprise wave hit him in the back and soaked him. Startled, he moved higher up the beach, while his dad admonished him:
This piece of writing was so visceral. You have such a way with words, I’m right there with you. I felt myself panicking at you trying to catch your breath (that word again).
You brought back memories of me as a child. I’ve always loved the seaside, and was a strong swimmer. In the summertime we’d have a vacation in my great aunties bungalow, 4 adults and 9 children and a dog. It was the happiest times and the worst of times. (So much cousin conflict!) Every day I’d swim in the sea. Every photo from that time a gappy grin, with goggles on and seaweed in the hair.
As I got older, probably 11/12, I became concerned and consumed with negative thoughts about my body. My widening hips, body hair and growing pains. I stopped going in the sea so much. I cared too much about what other people were thinking about me. Instead I stayed with the four adult women on the beach and heard more stories about family members and sharing a portion of chips because “a moment on the lips....”
Roughly 6 years ago, I went on a holiday to Croatia. I got back in the sea. I went to the beach with a non judgemental friend, nice and early, so no one would see my stretch marks and cellulite. As I descended into the water felt a sigh of relief. I floated onto my back and looked up at the sky and thought I’d there is a higher power, being held like this, looking up at the expanse, this is probably it.
After that holiday I resolved to swim more. But the exact words rolling about my head these past months have been how my passions and curiosities have all become theory.
I call myself a reader but I stare at a pile of unread books. I call myself a writer but don’t prioritise it. I tell everyone I love the sea and I used to be a swimmer but do nothing about it. And yet.....as well as the exhaustion from the pandemic, parenting young children, navigating a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, trying to heal past trauma....anything new feels, a lot. I know I’m rendered stationary with my pursuits because I’m fearful but also because it feels safe.
But your writing, it was a reminder that being in the sea, even being by the sea is also the seed on an idea that I must tend to. She represents all the versions of me I’ve been and she doesn’t care. She welcomes me as I am and never ever lets me down in all her unpredictability. She washes away who I think I need to be and demands authenticity. The sea for me is pure freedom.