It’s much more of an accomplishment when I make it out in the lineup now.
Mom ma Mamma Maaa a a
Are the first words that sneak past tangled hair.
And I bring her into a room that’s still dark
For warm milk
and the latest political news.
She’s so warm, it seems like she could melt us.
And so rough, too.
She brushes my teeth with her nails.
I put on my wetsuit over sticky skin and get her situated with the rest of the banana
and Nonnie and Poppy.
I don’t even check the surf forecast anymore,
I just go when I can.
I sing songs about sharks
and swim into the wild, gathered in its arms;
Knowing that it wants me to give it my fears freely.
They’re in my wrists and shoulders and eyes as I touch water that knew fear before I did because someone else was here first.
And there’s still fog sleeping on the beach.
The wind woke up first,
on the other side of the mountains,
to other voices.
The wind is the boss of the water now.
It pushes it onto the bottom of my feet as I paddle over waves less free than me.
I’m smiling the smile I’ve always had.
I try to ollie out of a wave that I’ve surfed well and I want to think that:
Here I am, putting in work.
Getting better at surfing,
for swimsuit season,
and other waves.
But this isn’t work.
The water comes towards me like a tongue trying to swallow my fear
as I sit just inside of Kirk and Scott and some other guy who keeps asking me what time it is.
I turn quickly,
making no sound.
Then I paddle knowing I’m going to make the water mine for a minute.
I’m carving and I’m gliding; salt is dripping down my brows.
Seaweed is hiding in my hair.
And maybe bravery.
I’m celebrating the wave,
by singing about sharks.
Then it takes a big breath as it reaches the shore and swallows me up.
And I think: I will never die of thirst.
Do other people out here look at my long hair?
At the stickers on my board?
At my face?
Do they expect more?
I don’t care, because I’m busy loving wild things.
And I think the same thing about the ocean every time:
It’s so loud and it’s so quiet.
art by Natalie Meredith