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aspiring salty

I just picked up these new work shorts but may need to stick to swim leggings. It’s hard to capture the true beauty of the leopard spot bruise pattern on my legs. This isn’t a nutritional deficiency (I just got tested for all that). It’s the story of the past week on my skin.

My middle toe on each foot has a deep gouge on the knuckle from fins. My crewmate says they’re a bad fit but John says that its the mark of a true water person, which I’d prefer to believe.

Not all days are the same. The general routines are, but every interaction and experience is different.

At sunset, I zip into my wet suit and sometimes get to dive the mooring line, threading it through an underwater buoy 10-15 feet below the surface depending on the tide. When I pull the sail, I have to hang my entire weight on its line while keeping balance on the roof of the rocking boat. All things that make one feel rather mighty.

The ocean is formidable. It scares me and I want to chase that fear. I get to meet it here with people who make me laugh and I’m always learning.

I spend half the time making sure everyone has fun and returns alive and intact. The other half I spend tripping out on the things we see.

During the day it’s bejeweled water, clear to 50 feet. It’s dropping people into a bay near a cliff pocked with ancient burial sites and a cannon ball crater. Its watching the sun cross the sky from one side to the other with all the colors in between.

It’s talking to people who come out to have fun and who find themselves, in the presence of the ocean, suddenly vulnerable.

It’s the dolphins that race the boat.

This week we hosted a group of stunningly handsome men in perfect shape with excellent taste in music. They fanned out across the bow, clad in neon speedos, laughing and embracing, happy and free.

The other day someone admitted their fear of how the sensation of water around their face made them flash back to drowning. Despite their trepidation, they entered the ocean and were embraced. They ended up spending the entire morning swimming up and down the coast.

An Australian couple explained the history of Aboriginals and how they have only been considered “human” by the government since 1967. The man said that he was the first of his generation in his family, to be allowed to marry someone darker than himself. He discussed his concerns of how systemic racism may affect his 5-year old daughter, who bravely swam in the ocean with me that night for nearly an hour while we made cat sounds at one another and a strong current washed us around.

Over the weekend a local family held a memorial in the sea. Some family came from land. Another boat brought more. In total maybe 70 people swam around. Some drank spiked seltzers while lolling in their inner tubes. A baby in a pool floatie bobbed among them in water maybe 40 feet deep. Kids leapt from the roof of the boat, laughing and splashing and encouraging one another. The mothers and women passed ashes and flowers among themselves, dispersing them in the sea.

In and on the water, day and night, there are, everywhere, small vignettes of life in motion. This is where our paths intersect. It’s how water heals and revives.


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