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100 Days of Gladness: Day 37

Getting beat up by the ocean

Photo: Elena Terrone

As I scan for the things that make me happy, near the top of the list is the ocean. I am not a strong swimmer. I’m just a human animal that loves the water. Especially salt water.

There are so many ways of enjoying it.

One of my favorites:I stand on the shore, face my primordial mama and take a deep breath. Then I walk through the thin water that rushes, foaming toward me, then pulls at my feet, leaving me-shaped absences in the wet, disappearing footsteps. I keep going. I walk till the waves are bigger.

When the big one comes, I wait for her to vaunt herself high above me, so threatening, such

a bully — but I time it just right (you’re not the boss of me), and dive right into the bottom of her belly, letting all her chaos and bluster flow right over me. And me there underwater, completely undisturbed. I come up for air behind her, free and clear.

I do this with the next one. And the next.

At some point, I’m far enough out, beyond the waves.

And this is where bliss lives.I lie back, fill my body with oxygen, and float. I float, feeling the whole of the ocean as she holds me up, every inch of me. She cradles my head. And when I’m brave enough, I relax it all the way until only my nose and mouth are above water. She’s still there, right under me. Her fluid hands under my back, my legs, my feet. She’s under my arms.

This is my heaven on earth.

The challenge comes when it’s time to return. This involves catching the waves just right, riding the currents as far as possible. It’s doable, but there’s always that awkward place where it’s too shallow to bodysurf, and I have to get up. That’s right when one of those medium, ‘negligible’ waves smacks me hard in the back with so much force I fall forward, suit full of sand, laughing. I have to scramble this way several times, giggling, until I’m upright, feet back in the sand, on the shore.

She’ll always be the boss of me.

And I love her so so much.


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