You can say I have been traumatized by the beach. Well! Technically it’s the ocean… Ever since the time that I found a dubious lump floating me when I was about ten, I have been skeptical of the ocean. My dad had taken me for a swim in the ocean and while I happily enjoyed the cold waves of salty water washing over the heat of the tropical sun beating down on us, a pile of something had come floating next to me. Of course I went close to investigate and swam ashore as fast as I could when I realized that it was a mound of human feces! Ever since then, not just swimming in the sea, but even simply dipping my feet in the ocean has been unthinkable.
But luckily I am in America now. A county where people do not, hopefully, poop in the ocean. I am now in a country where people enjoy the ocean recreationally and have toilets for their other business.
I wanted to be able to enjoy the ocean. But could I ? After decades, on a hot hot morning in late July, I toyed with the idea of dipping my feet in the ocean. I stood on the sand watching the water from the Atlantic and wondering.
Would it be too cold?
I did not remember!
Would it be salty and sticky?
I could not recall.
Would it give me goosebumps?
I just didn’t know.
It was still too early for people to have driven up to the shore. I walked in solitary mustering up courage. I sat on the Cape May rescue boat that lay on the sand and watched as the waves came to the shore and went away. The wet and salty breeze brushed against my bare, neck and cheeks. It was cool despite the strong 7 am sun.
I jumped out of the boat and walked along the wet sand, leaving my footprints behind and waited at a spot where the last receding wave made a mark on the sand. Then I stood again a little closer to the wave and waited.
It was like the waves knew that they could not, should not shock me. It was like they knew I was returning after many years. It was like they knew I was scarred. They came close enough and went back. Again they came close but not enough to touch me. They waited for me to go to them.
I dipped my toes in the last bit of a wave that was going away. I did it again. A cold, refreshing touch. I could not believe how the cold from the water tickled my toes and the sand rubbed against the soles of my feet as the waves withdrew.
The waves seemed to know I felt good. They knew I enjoyed the sensation. They knew they could come to me. With all their might, they pushed forward and made their way to my feet, covering them and splashing my ankles.
Ahh!!! I had missed this feeling.
The feeling of the heat of the sun on my bare arms and the chill water on my feet.
I hadn’t realized I had missed it– yet I had.
I stood in the wet sand, staring at the deep blue ocean and watched the waves treat me. I thought of nothing. I remembered nothing. I wanted nothing.
Summer could not get better! I enjoyed my intimacy with one of the many natural wonders. I relished the moment I had with the ocean.