Everything in this world scares me. Name one thing and I guarantee within seconds I will name something about it – even the most infinitesimal thing – that scares me in some way.
Everything in this world scares me.
Except the water.
Among the palms and the pines I have always been drawn to the water. When my feet hit the sand – coarse or soft – when my feet press down over stones and shells – when the stones and shells pierce back – I am whole.
It sounds cheesy. I know I sound like a boiling vat of Velveeta right now, but trust me I live for the water. If I could grow gills and a tail, you would only see me on holidays.
I loved you.
Or – I loved the idea of you. I think I still love the idea of you. The idea of us tries to drown me like a rip current. And where I come from, there are always rip currents. What I’m saying is, I’m used to it.
I loved what I misinterpreted. I loved the possibility that I could be loved. I loved something I had always feared. Falling.
Everything in this world scares me and falling is top ten for sure. Falling is the reason I hate ice skating. Falling is the reason I hate hiking. Falling is the reason I hold on to the railings walking up and down the stairs. Falling is the reason I am afraid of failure. Of rejection. Of humiliation. Falling from grace.
You can’t fall in the water. You can drown, but you can’t fall.
It’s quiet underwater.
Did you ever try that thing when you were younger? Maybe you were in the pool with your friends and you would all take a deep breath, dive under the surface, and try to speak to each other. Did you ever try that? Did you ever understand what they were saying through the gargled distortion? Didn’t you feel like a champ when you did?
It’s quiet underwater. It’s not the same quiet as surface quiet. You can hear the pressure filling up your ears. You can hear only your mind. You would think that would be maddening for a person like me.
It’s quiet underwater. I don’t want to drown, but I don’t want to resurface. I want to stay down here, under the waves, under the blue-green blanket of the rolling tide. It is warm, it is quiet. I can’t breathe, but it doesn’t matter because I feel safe. I want to stay submerged until I forget about you – or the idea of you. I want to stay submerged until my fingers web and my neck sprouts gills and my legs fuse together and grow scales and a billowing tailfin. And I want shark teeth. Rows and rows of shark teeth. And I want my hair to ebb and flow with the tide; I want it to adhere to the waxing and waning of our moon. You could have had me, but look at me now! I am a creature of the sea, part woman, part mermaid, rows and rows of shark teeth! I am the biblical definition of awesome! I embody the sublime.
The tide is high – just like the song – and I jump in and over oncoming waves. I keep thinking about you. And me. Us. There is an us. It’s a platonic us. It’s an us. Roll, jump, crash. There was never a chance. Roll, jump, crash. Do you think there’s still a chance. Roll, jump, crash.
Isn’t it wild how the sea is never the same? Every minute it is changing, moving, swelling. One day, it’s glass. One day, it’s alive and breaking and roaring and crashing. I don’t need you, do I?
I let a wave crash over my head. It burns my eyes. It burns my nose. It burns my throat. It burns my lungs. Baptism by water that is fire. My eyes burst open red, flaming, my lungs swallow the air, and the brine, and I am ablaze, but I am alive. I am the sea. It’s a tired metaphor, but it is apt. Stopping for no one, both constant and inconsistent. Together we keep churning, swelling, raging, rushing, doing, being whether you decide to dive in or not. The sea is vast, the sea is open, the sea is the only lover I never feared. You don’t have to love the sea for her to exist. I am the tide, I am the ebb, I am the flow. I am eternal, guided by a heavenly body, striking fear, awe, and admiration into the hearts of everyone who I have seen and known. The sea – the tranquil and the terrible, the calm and the storm, the material and the mythical – the sea is her own. We love the sea, we bask in the sea, but the sea would be just fine without us. And I – a humble student – will learn from my teacher. You may come and go as you please, but I do not need you. I am the ebb. I am the flow. I exist without you and beyond you.