The Ocean My Giant

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How large is the ocean? How vast are the waters of this earth? It is mind-boggling how quickly the largest creature can turn an insect of the seas. Now imagine the three feet of three years, alone, separated in the crazed waves: picture a child in the wide green-blue: Crystal-clear water glistening in the Caribbean sun, the creatures of weeds and fish circling below the little body. What is more entrancing than the alien world below the surface? And so why wouldn’t the miniscule being be drawn to the underwater world?

At the age of three, my family moved to the island of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands: a small mass of land in the middle of liquid blue. As expected of a young family living in the Caribbean, we soon assumed the favorite pastime of snorkeling, but as all four kids were under the age of ten, we would always have to take turns accompanying my dad out into the endless aquarium. Then occurred the event that would change my life forever.

One day, the family ventured out for our usual Sunday at the beach. Life carried on as normal, and the end of the exhausted day approached quickly. My parents decided to call it quits- just after my dad journeyed the waters one last time. My three-year-old eyes saw the end of the day coming near and decided to also take one last peek at the ocean life. So as my dad swam his long, powerfully calm strokes, the little me splashed alongside him, just a few feet separating us.

The seemingly extraterrestrial world below fascinated me, and I soon found my eyes gravitating involuntarily toward the fruity arrangement of life. I mimicked the tiny fish below, pretending that my Darth-Vader-styled-snorkel-breathing could transform into effortless gills. I weaved through the imagined extensions of weeds and coral, making my way through the busy traffic of fish. Despite my size, twelve feet of water resumed its previous depth of only five feet as my mind entangled itself into the lives of stingray and octopi, swimming further and further away from reality: Until I was alone.

I suppose that if my dad had actually known I was his self-designated swimming partner, this story may have ended differently. At this moment in time, I took a second out of my fantasy to observe water, water, and more water: not a dad in sight. Just as if I was in a horror film, my mask immediately chose this moment to allow water to seep in, and, for the first time in my life, I did not enjoy blowing bubbles into liquid through a straw. I choked and spat salty tears, undecipherable amidst the matching ocean’s tears. My panic clenched at my normally relaxed muscles, and I cried out a gurgled “HELP!” Now I was a solid in a mass of liquid. And all of a sudden, the ocean grew, and my giant being turned into the ant stuck in a puddle- except this was the Atlantic.

On shore, the tall, gangly, graying man stumbled, dragging his wet legs across the similarly wetted sand. My parents started to gather our things to take home but realized something was missing. A glance that said, “I thought she was with you,” mirrored in their faces and suddenly the tired legs pumped with adrenaline once again through the meniscus of the sea. It wasn’t that hard to find the pile of splashing drops, but mostly due to the fact that she was slowly sputtering in the direction of land.

I barely registered my own relief as my raisin-y feet caressed the cloudy sand, but it was enough to tickle my spine with a consecutive shiver. Of course, the little me took immediate advantage of my parents’ quivering thankfulness to God for saving their little girl: I put in my request for a brand new mask less than a day later. But the fear that I failed to comprehend in that moment haunts me to this day. The ocean is my home and swimming is my breath, but I am unable to venture too far into my comfort zone due to its overwhelming engulfment. It is amazing how soon the ocean can take you captive to its depths and how soon the insect’s giant can become the insect, for I am the insect and the ocean my giant.





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