I learned to swim in the Congress Hall pool in Cape May. I wanted to, very much, so I could go into the ocean above my knees. For years I'd watched other people go in up to their necks, or swim along parallel to the beach. Best, bodysurf--I knew I could do it, if I could swim!
(So similar to writing, really...)
All week I have been longing for the sea, more than usual. I have a lot to think about right now, but that didn't seem why. Sometimes the only way to figure out how you feel is to jump. So this morning I drove down to Asbury Park and let things happen.
The boardwalk goes through town after town and you walk for miles before realizing it--and so I did. It was pretty empty. The beaches had sprouted lots of umbrellas, so it seemed everyone was crossing the boards rather than strolling. Oh yes--I chose to stroll, and not be all pointedly exercise-y. Exercisers passed me, arms pumping. Go ahead! Be that way. Me and the beach grass moved slowly, as the breeze would have it.
I walked back up to AP for the beaching. Cheaper--$5--and wide open. Just me and my towel. Pretty off the grid behavior among all the beach chairs and umbrellas. Back to the sand.
The tide was super low, so the waves broke on the beach; if you stood close to shore, they broke behind you, and you had sudden thrills of salt spray pelting your back. A serene, rolling ocean coming off a storm somewhere--you could feel that provenance in the verve of the swells. Maybe that was why all the children shrieked every time a wave pulled up out of nothing.
No body surfing, or parallel swimming. Just floating over the waves, sometimes getting a face washing.
I didn't shriek, but I did stay in until my teeth were banging so hard I was afraid I'd bite my tongue off. That's what you do, of course. You stay in...
Oh! Oh. Here it was, the need, what I came to think about. Here, when I stepped on this broken clam shell, or was pinched by this crab, or stepped off a ledge into a small cold pool. A few things--one being the story I am nervous in. I realized what I was writing about the other day and was so taken aback that I haven't written a word of it since. Am I really ready for that one?
You're an ocean girl.
Some things are too private to write down, even in one's own blog. Let me just tell you that no one minds if you cry your heart out on the beach in AP. It's that great there.