The Dive

March 1, 2012
By , Nesconset, NY
I lay here, unconsciously listening to the pounding of the surf as the waves come crashing down one after another in a familiar rhythm. The typical calls of the big-bellied man selling his usual dull selection of Chipwiches and Scribblers echo in my ear. I hear the giggles and squeals of children as the water gets closer than they anticipated, nipping at their toes. I sit up and open my eyes, taking in the beautiful place around me that I grew up in. The seagulls hover over me, hungrily screeching away, with their eyes peeled open not daring to close them. They wait for that brief moment of distraction when they can swoop down and consume the forgotten food left behind by families. Right beside me is a chubby, pale skinned boy, being lathered with sunscreen by his domineering, grey-haired, grandmother. A gust of wind blows in my face, and the distinct scent of seaweed and salt tickle my nose. My mouth instinctively begins to water as I get a whiff of hot dogs and hamburgers cooking at the concession stand. I reposition myself so I can see the ocean without turning my body at an awkward angle. Trotting along the shoreline is a Labrador with his mouth gaping open, dodging around families, but stealing quick glances at its owner, begging for the Frisbee to be thrown again. The sun is beating down on me, and I become aware of the sweat trickling down the nape of my neck. The heat feels good, warming my skin for the first time in months, but the water appears so cool and inviting.
As I walk down to the water, I feel the soft sand between my toes as I carefully maneuver myself around the occasional broken bottle that turns up. I hesitantly step into the water so only my feet are exposed to the icy shore. It’s slightly chilly, but the longer I stand here the more soothing it gets. I close my eyes and feel calm and confident in this place of mine. I see an enormous wave coming, and I take my chances and dive in. The water engulfs me, and I resurface. I realize that it’s much rougher than I predicted. A huge wave, bigger than the last, is already crashing, and I duck under again. My exhaustion is overwhelming, and I finally reach the surface once more, but this time I am too late. The wave knocks me full in the face, and I start tumbling. I don’t know what the surface is, and what the bottom is. Every part of my body is colliding with shells and sand. I’m knocked all the way back to the shore with sand tangled up in my hair and in my bathing suit. I stare at the ocean I’ve looked at countless times before. I feel much smaller, and the ocean seems much bigger than it did a few minutes ago. Fear paralyzes me.

A series of images flash in my mind as I’m laying here. I catch a glimpse of me as a young girl falling off my bike multiple times with scrapes all over my knees, but getting right back on it. I see me as a seventh grader striving to make the middle school kickline team. I worked every day before the tryout getting that split I could never perfect, flawless, and nothing dampened my spirit. I picture myself as a freshman at my desk with a pile of homework in front of me and a night lamp by my side. Two honors classes with adapting to a new school was a lot for me, and I did struggle, but I got through it. As we get older we are more inclined to become discouraged or shy away from fear, but when we are younger we feel like anything’s possible because nobody’s there to tell us otherwise. I decide at that moment that I would never let fear keep me from doing what I want to accomplish. I get to my feet and dive back into the ocean, and I feel the sand on my body try to wash away with my fears.

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