Fear of the Deep Blue
It’s one of those enigmas in life. Well, my life anyways.
It wasn’t always this way. I grew up on a huge man-made lake; weekends and summers filled with swimming, water skiing, and raisin-like fingertips galore!
I lived for the water. While I didn’t live at the beach growing up, we visited every year. I would soak in the salt water for hours. I was a fish as soon as I could float. My parents couldn’t keep me out of it.
I remember once slicing my foot open on something in the murky deep.
I didn’t care. Patch me up. Send me back in, Mom.
I remember anonymous creatures and vegetation slithering through my legs and grazing my body but nothing could deter me from the water. It was my home.
I remember the day that all changed.
We were visiting Pawley’s Island for our annual family vacation. Eighteen aunts, uncles, and cousins crammed into a house for seven straight days. It was heaven. I was still a fish, spending my days laid out on a float in the water or with my ass in the wet sand to cool off from the hot day. A friend of mine came with me and I found out very quickly that she was afraid of the water.
Color. Me. Flabbergasted.
By this point in my life, I lived in Charleston, SC. In other words, I lived at the beach. How does someone live at the beach and not love the water? I was shocked!
I vowed to get her in the ocean by the end of the week. It was safe. It was cool. It would soothe our red skin that baked in the afternoon sun. It was fun for Pete’s sake!
It took all week, but by Friday, the day before we left, she finally couldn’t take the heat anymore. Not wanting to waste her last day of vacation inside, she slowly made her way to the water to join me, floating blissfully out in the dark water.
She waded out, taking her time to adjust to the cool, ocean waters. When she finally reached me, I smiled in victory and offered her the opposite side of my float.
I won. I convinced her. The ocean was, in fact, fabulous.
That’s when it happened. Sabotage!
The stingray lunged out of the water, approximately ten feet away from our position of floating bliss. My friend’s back was to the creature but my face conveyed all she needed to see. The abomination’s flaps flailed around through the air like one of those wacky, crazy, inflatable arm guys you see in used car dealerships.
My friend didn’t even look. She heard the splash and took off toward the shore. I was right behind her. I left the float, practically running on water like I was the next coming of Jesus. We both reached the shore and collapsed to the sandy ground. My friend glared at me as I laughed at our narrow escape from the hideous beast of the sea! As she stomped away, I stared out into the ocean; the stingray no where to be seen.
It may have been funny at the time, but the damage was done. Seeing it first-hand became too much to handle. What else lurked in the shadowy depths? I never wanted to find out.
I may live at the beach, but the ocean is no longer my home.
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