What did you do on summer vacation, Johnny? Well, I almost drowned…

So, yes. I went on vacation. And yep, I actually came back. Dammit. The post delay has many reasons… none of which I want to go into right now, suffice it to say this will be a long one.

Sometimes, when you look at the ocean, you think she is a restful, calm place. A place where romance blooms and sweet nothings are carried by the breeze across sandy dunes to land gently on freckled cheeks slightly scorched by the sun.

Other times, you see her for what she really is- a sly trickster PMS’ing in the worst way. She draws you into her depths taunting you with her cool blue exterior only to turn on you in an instant, roiling up underneath in riptides and evil currents of doom, sending man eating sharks, stinging rays and slimy purple jellyfish your way. She plays with your emotions, come deeper she says, look, a sand bar, here and here too… a place you can rest your tired limbs, a place I will drown you. And no one on land will ever see.

Here’s a picture of our beach right after some doofus numbnuts hick yelled, “Shark!” Um. No. Dumbass. That was a ray. And a small one at that. Good Lord, am I glad he wasn’t around this morning when the dolphins were swimming by just past the sand bar.

A sand bar that looks like this: A sandbar that teased most of us on land into believing she had a sister sandbar a bit farther out, if we were reading her signs- that come hither beckoning finger that said, swim just a little bit more, just a little more…. okay. now DIE.
Um. yeah. Well. almost.

See, right after the doofus yelled shark and scared everyone out of the water, I had to make a point, so I ran INTO the water and said I was going for a swim. My equally brave and equally stubborn 15 yr old son joined me. Everyone else went back to their coolers of beer.

So we swam, and floated, and joked.. and scared each other a little talking about rays and sharks and big fish underneath us. The shore was far away. Very far away. And the elusive second sand bar? Wasn’t a sand bar at all… just more deep, deep water. Hiding a rip tide.
There are very few moments in my 46 years that I have thought I was going to die.
This was one of them.

And you know what I was thinking, as I was sinking? That this would be a totally embarrassing way to go, and that how weak would I be, if I didn’t try to save my son, or how he would feel if he had to watch me die… we tried to wave to people on shore, tried to get someone to notice we were in trouble. I wondered how long it would take for a rescue to arrive.
And then, I saw all of these things cross my son’s face and I changed my tune.
“C’mon Dude. Backstroke? I’ll race you!”

We encouraged each other through the deepest water, out of the riptide, down the shore and finally to a place we could float and then stand and far away from our starting point, we hauled ourselves to shore and fell exhausted in the sand, looked at each other and said, “We almost freaking died out there. omigod.”
Back at our sand chairs, under our sun shelter, we found a passed out dad oblivious to our plight and a little girl burying her feet in the sand, not a care in the world.

The irony of the fact that my novel is called, WE’RE NOT WAVING, WE’RE DROWNING is not lost on me. Thanks for the reminder, God. It’s me, Linda.

more tomorrow, with a slightly less morose theme I promise

3 responses on “What did you do on summer vacation, Johnny? Well, I almost drowned…

  1. Yo!

    Good Lord Linda. I hate the riptide on that stretch of water – and people drown there ALL THE TIME. And shark bites DO happen there. So glad you didn't DROWN.

  2. April

    I relived a moment, reading your post; I was 14 and my little bother was 9 when the same thing happened to us. I still cannot beleive that the life gaurds kept blowing their whistles at us as we waved for help. I kept trying to pitch the little brother towards shore and he kept getting succked back and grabbing on to my neck in desparation. I am no strong swimmer and the water was over my head, but somehow we got down stream from the rip current and walked back to our beach blanket with no one beleiving we ever in any serious peril; but we both knew. We still do.