Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The wave coming in appears deceptively benign in videos. The occasional towering wave that collapses on the shore just like the rest. But this one kept coming and kept coming and soon enveloped trees and houses and flooded the road, breaching the untalked-about barrier between what's ours and what's the sea's.

I can't fathom that a drop of water, like one that runs down the outside of my whiskey glass, is the same element that this is made of. I can't reconcile the ocean with the drop.

In Puerto Rico we went body surfing on the first full day, tipsy from rum punch. I waded to my hips in the warm Atlantic and took a blissful piss. Waves came every five or ten seconds, cresting at my shoulder or neck. I turned around and body surfed pitiably, not getting tossed around in a cloud of sand like you're supposed to but getting pinned to the shore anyway. I'd get up and try again, and again.

Then I noticed I'd drifted into a clutch of rocks that stuck a foot or so out of the water, chest-high. A wave slammed me up against them. I tried to grip one but its surface was slick with moss and my hands slipped off as the undertow sucked me away. Then another wave. Slammed up on the rocks. Pulled away. Slammed. Pulled. I found myself growing tired, losing my footing with the ceaseless, rhythmic push and tug. In a moment I realized I had to act so I hoisted myself up on the rock, clambering up on my torso, heaving arms and a knee to the other side. There I waded in the calmer water and negotiated the other rocks on hands and knees, finally reaching shore.