I grew up in New York. I grew up spending summers at my great grandparent’s summer cottage on the North Fork. I grew up swimming in the bay and the sound. Bodies of water which are gray or dark green. Murky with lots of unknown beasties ready to pinch a toe or suddenly squish under a foot. We would always go in no matter the weather (unless there was lightning) and no matter the temperature. I will admit that there was a brief swimming respite the summer Jaws came out. But that aside, I don’t ever remember not swimming because I thought that the water was cold.
Fast forward many years later and here I am living in Hawaii. Living in Hawaii where, when I go to the ocean, I generally feel like I want to go in. I always feel like I want to go in. I am on the beach. I am hot. Maybe sweaty. The water is blue, blue, blue and clear. And I want to go in. But then I get to the water’s edge. I walk out to my waist and suddenly I am freezing. The slight cooling breeze feels like an arctic wind. I get goose bumps. And then I turn around and escape to the warm sand. Wrap myself in a towel and warm up. I am always chided by people who remind me that I am from New York. While that may be true, after living in tropical climates for over ten years, I can say that while I may never be Hawaiian, when it comes to my body’s reaction to the weather, I’m about as local as they come.
Lately I have been feeling not great. Off. Anxious. Not great. I remembered years ago when I would boogie board and there was something mystical about being in the water. I remember that being in the ocean made me feel right, pono. So after feeling not so good for a few days I decided that I had to get in the ocean on Sunday. Really get in the ocean. Complete submersion. A salt water baptism. Due to the sporting event going on down by Kapiolani Park, we ended up at Ala Moana. A place full of small children, stand up paddle boarders and swimmers. We found a good spot (although not good enough for my son) and I decided to just go in. So unlike me. I worried as I walked to the water’s edge that I would wuss out. That I would stand up to my waist gazing forlornly across the water wishing I could do it. But I knew as soon as my toe hit the water that this would not be the case. The water felt almost warm and inviting. There was no arctic wind blowing. I walked out and then took the plunge literally. Without my glasses the entire world turns to extreme fuzziness. And that was OK. I was under water and floating on the water. I was out where I couldn’t touch in the bluey blueness of the ocean. It was good stuff.
I’m not going to say that I was healed. That I was miraculously feeling fine. That was not the case. But I felt better. I felt calmer. More grounded. In my head? Likely. Does it matter? Not a bit. I’m considering going back for some more this weekend. Look for me. I’ll be the one who goes right in, all the way, with no hesitation.