Tuesday, August 17, 2004

At the Beach

Today, thanks to a company outing, I was at the beach.

I went swimming. The water was chilly, but after a few teeth chattering minutes, I got used to it. I swam alongside the coastline, and away into the deeper water. I haven't been swimming in probably many years. (Coincidentally, I was at this same beach for another company a few years ago, and it was probably then that I was last in water.)

I marveled at the feeling of suspension, just at the ledge of the beach where I couldn't touch the bottom with my feet. I waved my arms and legs trying to stay afloat, and then my body remembered that all I had to do was lie down in a relaxed prone position to stay floating. The water was murky, and it was salty (I didn't open my eyes underwater). But I put some of it in my mouth and squirted it out, like I was some sea animal.

There was a buoy probably a hundred or two hundred yards beyond the beach. A boat was settled next to it. From land, the buoy seemed reachable, but in the water, my amateur swimming stroke only got me a third of the way there. I didn't trust myself to get back to shore even if I could reach it.

The company party largely stayed on the beach, but a few of us die-hards romped in the New England water. There's the bigness of the water that is both comforting and mildly terrifying. Someone nearby reminded me not to panic. Don't flail. Relax. Your body is naturally buoyant.

The longer I stayed, the stronger the pull of the water. The tide was coming in. Near the surface, the water was warmer, but at my feet, at my legs, were fast moving streams of cooler water. Nature at work on me, around me. I was in her element. I could see the crest of the water rising above my head, the strength of the water. I tried to catch the modest waves as they began their break into the beach.

I clambered out onto the beach, exhausted, elated, and feeling all rubbery. I was experiencing gravity anew it seemed.

"I can't believe you went in there!" some people said. I looked back at the marvelous water. How could I not?

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