Tuesday, July 12, 2011

At The Water's Edge

As I looked through the summer vacation photos I paused to look more closely at a picture of my son. At the moment the picture was snapped it was impossible to get a clear image, but the memory of watching him standing ankle deep in the ocean for the very first time really struck me. The water was icy, proving my warning that just because California is warm doesn’t mean the water will be ideal for swimming. It didn’t take long and he was back on his towel fighting to get situated without getting sand on everything. I watched him while he watched the water. We sipped our teas and ate some chips. He continued to watch the waves. 

The sun had no sooner warmed is feet back to a state of thaw when he said; “I’m going back in. I’m getting in this time.” That is exactly what he did. I estimated he would take one dip before he was back on the towel. His sister and I giggled watching him strut down the sand. He started by squatting and moved to a kneeling position, letting the waves lap at him. Then, in what seemed like his “do or die” moment, he lunged forward into an oncoming wave. Surely that would be the end of it. We laughed the deep, stomach tightening, belly laughs you only get when something is truly comical. To our shock, he didn’t run back. He did the unthinkable. He went further out. 

As he reached the point where he was chest deep, my heart started to beat faster. Mom panic started to set in. He’s a Midwest kid with no big water experience. What would he do when a big wave hit him in the shoulders and the returning water sucked his feet out from under him? I remained outwardly calm. There was no sense in letting anyone else see how much of a worry wart I was. I walked a little closer to the water, snapped a few pictures, and beckoned him to come back closer to the shore. 

Standing there brought back the same feelings I had the first time I saw the ocean. I was nowhere nearly as brave as my 14 year old son. I never went past my ankles that first day and here he was being called to shore by a scared mother. I had heard the stories. I remember watching “The World According To Garp”, and being ever mindful that the ocean had an “under toad”. I had seen Jaws for Pete’s sake! I knew the dangers! More than that, the feeling of being so tiny and so insignificant was a familiar one. 

From moving out of my parents’ house into town or moving from the small town to Denver, it was familiar. Looking out on something so vast you cannot truly comprehend it’s enormity, you get a true sense of what it feels like to be such a small part of a big deal…. But not when you’re 14. Every child should have a chance to stand on the edge of the world and be mesmerized before they are old enough to feel like it will swallow them whole. 

As I walked back toward my daughter sitting on her towel, I could see the smile on her face. She was happy in that moment. I was happy to be in the moment with her. Right then I took a little something from each of them and tucked it back in my heart. From Alex, the ability to be happy with the moment I am living in and from Jacob, the idea of being fearless. 

Does it get better than that? 

4 comments:

Fred Miller said...

I never stood in the ocean until I was thirty. I got stuck in Rockaway Beach, NY one night. The beach was closed, but I didn't care. I was alone. It was terrifying, but I walked in. Then it felt like home.

Crystal said...

I'm creeping up on 30 and I still haven't been in or to the ocean. I live in the prairies and the closest water is the creepy yucky river. I kinda hope that my first time is just as memorable - and my lil one can experience it too!

Angie said...

Fred,
Being in the ocean at night would scare the holy hell out of me. I can get out to about neck deep before I have a bit of a panic attack and have to turn back. I would die within 1 hour if I was on a boat that capsized. FACT!

Angie said...

Crystal,
You will hear a lot of people in life say, "well it's really something you should see/do". This is one of those things. :) I'm sure you will both be awed!

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