Oceans and Waves

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It’s been a gnarly week.  I left work early on Monday.  Exactly 2 years after my pulmonary embolisms, I was having chest pain that felt like I was eating wheat, but I wasn’t eating wheat.  Part of me knew it was probably tummy troubles, but because of the tight chest and childhood asthma making a comeback lately, I thought the prudent thing would be to check it out.  I hadn’t eaten wheat at all in the last few days.  My chest felt painfully tight for at least 15 minutes straight and puking until there was nothing left didn’t help.  Apologies to whomever had to listen from the stall next to me at work. An ER visit with tests, a blog post and a nap later and I went home to tackle mom duties. Indigestion from stress and I was ready for more.  

Hindsight is always crystal clear.  I had 2 and a half cups of coffee with enough coffee grounds in it to pretend it was tea and I was doing a divination reading.  It’s probably what upset my stomach although I haven’t had any other heartburn symptoms until tonight.  Even then, my wet burps weren’t painful.  It was a demanding week with the boys.  They are consistently themselves, but my ability to handle it was shifting and I was short on reserves.  Today I had three people push my buttons in a way where I reached out to a friend in an effort to not lose my shit.  I smothered my anger in chocolate and headed to the beach after work.

There’s something so healing about the sound of waves crashing and it was a beautiful night to stand over the ocean.  I haven’t actually been in the ocean in years, but I imagined what that used to feel like and the memory shifted my perspective for just long enough.  I should paint the picture.

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When I got to the beach, the sun had already dipped beneath the horizon and the inky blue of night was splashed across the sky with the pink and gold of a light that can’t be dimmed even after the sun makes way for the moon and stars. The clouds were drifting far above, and I knew the rain that started falling in Burbank would wait for my recharge in Santa Monica.

I walked along the pier and got to the end where anglers were using huge amounts of bait for the small mackerel they were catching.  Lower atmospheric pressure meant the ocean was swelling in anticipation for the storm and the water reached further up the pilings to the pier I stood on.  I stood over the water that crested in small translucent blue green waves.  The water was fairly clear and even at night with the lighted bobbers being used by hopeful anglers, I could see down several feet into the water.  The water rose and fell gently, with hardly a gust of wind.

I took the time to swipe left and right, because online dating is something a friend does and he makes it look not so scary.  We even swiped right on each other so he could see what vibe I’m sending out when a man asks me to visit him in his home but I’ve never met him before, and a second asks me to meet him in his home for a massage an hour and a half after a “hello.”  He couldn’t see anything other than how deep my need for conversation is.  I lightened the mood a bit, but the offers remained the same.

I took my time leaving the pier, meandering from side to side while walking east, appreciating the sound of water, and people, and Pokemon players.  I stopped and stood for a while to admire the waves that were cresting, then crashing into foam and a rushing gallop of waves running along the surface of the ocean.  Here I could see clouds of sand churning and dancing, making clear waters murky. I walked further toward land and as the waves crashed violently, further out, spent waves weren’t consistently able to reach the same places.

I thought of those summers as a child when I would go out far enough into the ocean that I had to tread water because I couldn’t stand.  I remember the feel of water so deep that I could curl my body up into the fetal position and just float on the waves, bobbing buoyantly on the surface.  Or I could hold my breath and go further toward the shore and the waves that were cresting would force my movement.  I could relax my body enough to be tossed into somersaults.  These waves would run toward the shore in shallow rushing foam, pushing me forward toward land.  On the shore, every 7th wave would reach far up the sand, but the other waves couldn’t go as far.

When you first arrive at the shore and you start walking in.  The icy cold of the water first gives you pause at your ankles and again at your thighs.  Your body keeps telling you to stop .  The further you go, the more the waves fight you until you see the big ones coming and you can just dive below them and come up without being pushed away.

It was a moment where I realized I could stick my head up above the water and I could see where I was and what was coming my way in life.  The waves and the force of them is consistent.  That doesn’t change.  What changes is the depth of the water, and the point at which the ground interferes with the cycle of the waves. Where I am shifts with who I choose to be. You fight to stand and move forward and then it gets easier and you see where life will move you.  Your body acclimates to the temperature and the force of nature becomes a balm as the waters wash away concerns of life, giving way to the feel of existence in ways that are foreign and call back to the time in utero when we were warm and safe and held. You dance away and laugh at the waves that try to reach you but you know where you stand and they are always out of reach. 

The farther in the ocean we are, we are carried.  We are pushed and held and oblivious to the distance we’ve slowly moved up north with the will of the ocean. We don’t even see what’s happening because we’re so involved in being carried and guided by the waves – by our circumstance. The ability to stand changes the closer to land I get and the more firmly I plant my feet, the more violently the waves will push me, and crash over me.  The sand will shift away and suck me deeper into the muck and sludge.  But I don’t have to stay where I am and life won’t allow such obstinance.

Tonight I stood above the ocean and figuratively raised my head above the water to see where I was, deciding I’m not in the crash zone anymore. I’m in deep water, but every once in awhile, I find myself in the crash zone, being pushed out far enough to realize the waves that once overpowered me are still unable to reach as far as they once did and I’m diving deep without much effort lately.  Sometimes the waves are bigger than I am, but I haven’t left the beach and that means I’m still trying.  And sometimes that’s enough.  

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