Water Child

Growing up in Florida, it’s not unusual to love water. Summer lasts most of the year, and with no alternative for out door play besides melting, kids swim. A lot.  Most of my life, I took for granted my joy in water, whether it be an ocean, river, pool, or bathtub — after moving to Japan, I could add onsen, ofuro, and sento — and I pushed my reluctant husband-to-be into an hour commute so that we could settle by the sea. Everything about the sea attracts me, still, ten years since moving two minutes from the shore:  the smell of sun and sand, the crest of silver waves in moonlight, the salt on your skin after swimming.

I’ve realized lately water fits me, too, as a metaphor for living.  I have never been a solid-of-the-earth type, yet I could never quite lose myself to daydreams and possibilities, no matter how much I wanted to fly.  Although I occasionally explode, a fiery-consumed life in passion and hot pain describes our daughter much more, I’m afraid.

What I have hated about my watery self and still hope to accept: my fluid tendency to assume the shape of my surroundings, like liquid poured into a cup.  Nothing solid myself, but capable of becoming firm and resolute, in the right surroundings.  Capable too, of sniveling, dripping, imbalanced waves of fury or frustration — but certainly I have  been aware of flow, of what washes around during conversations, currents carrying the words,underlying riptides of assumption.  Sometimes I have drowned in someone else’s expectations, or in my own misled determination to assume a shape I scented on the surf — but sometimes this flow has given me a compassion and a strange belief in all humanity as one ocean of souls, bobbing along in our desperation to stay afloat to see the sun again.

Something lovely sailed my way recently, a writing opportunity that came in a typhoon and left with a gentle drizzle of satisfied completion.  In its wake, now the evening after my rush of creativity, I thank my family, my friends, my flow.  Sometimes I know I am treading water, but I can still look up at the clouds, and dream.  Thank you for this wave of chance.


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