You said you wanted to feel alive / so we went to the beach. 

It had been over a year since we’d gone swimming, longer than either of us could remember since we’d been in the ocean. But what with both of us growing rather grim about the mouth, we accounted it high time to get to sea. I had forgotten considerations like high tide and parking and who would watch our stuff and that I should have securely French braided your hair before we jumped into the first wave. But I reckon that was all in the spirit of launching ourselves into the water at top speed and then pulling back, shocked by the change in temperature. That was what we really wanted, to crash into each wave, gasping and reaching for each other to prepare for the next one.

You were ecstatic, utterly in your element, and couldn’t stop grinning despite the water getting into your eyes and ears and mouth. The repetition of the waves was somehow meditative in its continual anxiety (or was it excitement?)—never easy, eventually peaceful.

It became a goal, seeing if we could get beyond the breaking waves and the bodysurfers to where the waters were calmer and too deep for you to touch the bottom. I alternated between jumping over each cresting wave and diving through. Each time, I spluttered to the surface and kept a lookout while you pushed the hair out of your eyes.

The beach was packed. The last time we had come it was early spring—far too cold for swimming and out of season for the folks with beach houses to be in residence—and mostly deserted. We treaded water and watched the activity from the other side of the surf zone until the tide pulled us back in; I felt much like an actor on stage or behind a television screen.

Of course, I got saltwater in my nose. And despite wobbling on our sea legs back to reapply sunscreen, we both got sunburns. Afterwards, I washed your hair with borrowed shampoo that smelled like limes, taking more time than usual in order to work out the salt, and we tried to get the sand out of the various places it had somehow gotten itself, joking that Anakin was right, it really is the worst.

We waited to do our tarot pull that day till after coming back to the beach house exhausted and dehydrated but not quite ready to leave the sensation of the waves behind. The Nine of Vessels, with its nine-dish potluck, felt somewhat apropos, as every daily reading does. Shannon finished writing her sermon, Mendel put away their e-reader, and we all trundled off to the bar where deep fried pickle spears, spicy grilled cheeses, and signs reading “Go Fuck Yourself” awaited. My sandal broke on the way back to the car, and the drive home was punctuated by on-again, off-again downpours interspersed with inexplicable sunshine. “Perfect biking weather,” you said wryly, in reference to that time we got caught in rain so heavy we could barely see but pressed on home anyway, soaked to the skin.

We talk often these days about pulling our hopes for the future into the present and also letting them go from our day-to-day minds in order to be where we are. I miss our long road trips together, texting Katie and Carol that we’ll be back to work in a month or so and wending our way to see a far away friend by way of a dozen other places. Even so, the hour-long drive on that unbearably hot Saturday with friends in the back seats and Help! playing through the speakers felt far enough away.

I hope we go vaulting through the ocean again before it turns fall.

1 Comment

  1. Josh Parks

    this is just really beautiful


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