My parents took my sister and me to Florida in the summer of 2009. This included the mandatory beach trip. This wasn’t the first time I saw the ocean. That happened in junior high. I got pulled out of school to visit my uncle to help him through the wake of his roommate and/or best friend’s suicide.
Despite it being somewhere between February and March, my sister and I received boogie boards to arm us against the waves of the freezing ocean. I tried my best to boogie board, but my knees quickly suffered for all my efforts. The board cut under a wave instead of floating on top, carrying me with it. The undercurrent trapped me under the surface as I felt the rhythm of the waves burying me deeper. My father pulled me from this hell, my nostrils and throat burning with the sea salt.
It’s amazing how almost drowning can affect someone’s opinion of the beach. I didn’t return to the ocean until the aforementioned trip in 2009. I mediated on my prior experience as I stood in the middle of the Atlantic, water chest-high. I also thought about all the poetry that had been read into the ocean. Its fickle temperament and its status as a symbol for freedom and independence. I thought back to all the authors who had looked at this same body of water (probably) and saw something spectacular in it.
Personally, I was bored out of my skull.