I feel like a bad Floridian.
This past Sunday was the first time I’ve been to the beach in what seems like years. When its been so long that you can’t remember, you may as well have never been before. We are the sum of our memories…or something like that.
I had forgotten how truly wonderful it can be. The interesting thing, though, is that my body remembered it all.
Its as though this was a well rehearsed scene. I started by taking off my shoes. Adjusted my gait as the sturdy planks of the boardwalk disappeared and turned to earth and glass. Feeling the sand, warm from the sun, as it conformed to the shape of my feet. Without even realizing that I made a decision, my shirt slid over my head and was tossed over to keep my shoes company. The sun felt so nice on my long since exposed shoulders. The sand hardened and became cool. The water that held the sand in place backed away with each step…it always made me feel like I had some kind of super power watching the sand change color under my weight.
At long last, I reached the water.
With each tiny wave, I was reminded of something: I was born to this. As much as I cherish my connection with the earth, half of me is a child of the ocean.
Native Floridians are hybrid creatures. We are born on land and surrounded on all but one side by the sea. The cold water licking at my feet urged me to remember.
When I was younger, I would play this game with Poseidon. I would call out to the god of the sea and tell him to do his worst. Send his waves at me! For hours I would fight the ocean with fists, feet, body slams, shells, and balls of wet sand. Basically anything at my disposal was fair play. If I ever said anything too harsh, I was reminded that I was in fact playing around with a god. Waves can slam you down pretty hard onto shell beds, let me tell you.
I never was able to outlast him. When my young body reached its limits and exhaustion inevitably set in, the waves would still be coming strong. As a reminder of who was really in charge, he would always send one last wave to throw off my balance just before I reached the shore. Such a joker.
On some level, though, I felt that I was respected. Here I was, only one tiny half breed among millions…but I stood up to him. I gave him everything I had, and I felt recognized for it.
This past Sunday, I remembered everything.
Then I got that feeling. That rush of being with an old playmate and rival. Seeing a friend you haven’t seen in years. Standing knee deep in the surf, I could feel myself readying for battle. It was invigorating.
He pulled gently at my feet as if asking me to come in further. And then I heard it. A familiar voice spoke from the depths of my mind.
“I remember you, child. Are you ready? Have you come back for more?”
Unless you were right next to me, you probably would not have been able to see the smirk in the corner of my mouth. How else could he expect me to respond?
You bet your ass I’m ready, old man. Game on.