As the surf washes in and back out, I feel the sands rush around my heels as though the sea is trying to reclaim me, to pull me deeper into its depths. A few short weeks ago, I might have given into its siren call and joined Neptune’s domain. But the cooling waters breaking around my ankles reminds me my time is nearly done. Staring out at the point on the horizon where sea and sky meet, blend, merge and confuse the eye, my mind drifts sanguinely back to those first days.
The heat beats down and then up again, the sand capturing some of its warmth and returning the unused portions back to the sun. Before stepping onto the coral white grains of shells crushed so fine, representing nature’s own recycling center, I slip off the leather confines of my shoes, freeing my feet of their civilized bonds. On first contact the heat melts into my soles, radiates up my legs and enters my core, completing the freedom. I close my eyes, tilt my head and breathe deep the salt encrusted breeze into my lungs. I feel the sun playing on my eyelids, dancing an invisible, unheard staccato against them.
Then the heat moving up from the sands into my feet begin to urge me onward. Slowing, taking ginger steps on the uncertain and constantly moving surface, I hobble down to the shoreline. I take care not to allow my knee to twist in a way that will cause the constant pain to become shooting.
The pain is the reason I am here. Years of pain that tinges everything in my life. Having tried every other way of relief, I was nearly at the end of caring to go on.
Then the sea called. And I came.
Walking to the place where wet and dry meet, where the waves pack down the sand and the sun dries it, I look out at the unending horizon. The sounds of the sea whisper my name. They say come to me, join with me, let me help.
With only the slightest of hesitation, I step into the thin layer of waves lapping at the shore, tempting the sands to join it, tempting me to join it, and then sliding back. As wave after wave mores up and then back, drawing me deeper, I feel the magic teasingly touch my skin.
Closing my eyes, I walk onward, deeper. First ankles being lashed with the sweetness of the salty waters, then calves, then knee and thighs.
And, delightfully, the pain of years washes away. I nearly laugh as the this nemesis I have endured slowly disappears. Waist high, chest deep, then up to my neck. Then without any hesitation this time, diving deep into the now crashing white and blue miracle drug. Breaking surface now only to catch a breath, I swim further and further out, the song of the blue penetrating my soul. Soon, as I break the surface again, I stop and look back, the shore a thin line and the people mere dots, I revel in the gently lifting and falling. Slow, easy kicks of my legs beneath me and the special bond of man and sea, keeps me afloat. Spinning in gentle circles, I let my head drift back and allow the sun to beat easily on my face. And this time I do laugh, hearty and deep, a freeing of my soul.
I relish the lack of pain, let memories of before it seep into my mind and fill my soul.
Knowing the limits of my strength and resolve, I let the water push me inward, back to the land and, ultimately, the return of the pain. But for now, I enjoy, for the first time in so long that it seemed like an unfathomable memory. Until now. Until the sea worked its magic. Until it had called and I answered.
The memory of that first day, and all the subsequent days I languished in the happy waters, lifts the corners of my mouth into a smile.
Now it is time. The waters cool, the skies are more cloudy than blue. And I must return to my old life. To the pain. But now, knowing there will be relief again next year, it is more bearable.
I turn back and the salt dries on my skin as I leave the sea. For a brief moment, I turn and look back at the waters, now void of the multitude that had shared, however unknowingly, my respite. I mouth the words, thank you.