When I was about 7 my parents gave my aunt, who lived in the heart of Kenmore Square in Boston, a couple of cots. My aunt was visiting my parents but the cots wouldn't fit in her VW bug so my mother loaded them into the back of our station wagon, and then loaded my sister, brother and I into the front and drove them to my aunt's house. I distinctly remember that this was explained to us as a quick trip - drop off the cots and head home.
We arrived in Boston in early evening to, as I remember it, the hubbub that is Kenmore Square when the Red Sox are playing at home. Since it was dinner time, the adults decided that we needed dinner. I don't remember what we ate or where. Just when I expected that we were about to be packed into the car for the ride home it was announced that it was too late for us to go home and we would have to stay the night.
This was quite a surprise, particularly since my aunt lived in a very small one bedroom apartment. But she did have those cots which were the reason for the trip. So the living room was lined with cots, and from some secret stash my mother produced pajamas for us all.
I don't remember much about the morning, but the overnight was not the last surprise. We loaded back into the car with my aunt and headed not home, but to Gloucester and the sea shore. We ended up at Good Harbor beach and from her secret stash my mother produced bathing suits and towels. Having grown up more than 100 miles from the nearest ocean beach, I'd never seen the ocean let alone put so much as a finger into it.
I was also deathly afraid of water (I realize that comes as a complete shock to anyone who knows me now). Wading was my limit. Even the best efforts of numerous swimming teachers, and the swim coach colleague of my father's, who wielded a heavy metal boat to try and coax my face into the water hadn't convinced me that swimming was a good thing. The swim coach used a heavy metal boat which he told me was Popeye's boat. He would drop the boat a little farther from shore each time in an effort to get me to put my face into the water. I became adept at contorting my body so I could pick the boat up without getting even my ear wet, but still would not put my face in.
When faced with the tumbling waves, the likes of which I had never seen before, I became enchanted. I didn't worry about getting knocked head over tea kettle by a wave, or about being dragged out to sea by the receding waves. No, for an afternoon I reveled in the beauty, and power of waves crashing on the shore. I leapt over waves, and let them break across my feet. I had to be dragged from the waves, lips blue with cold. For an afternoon I made peace with water.
It would be several more years before I made a permanent peace with water. I was ten when I learned to swim, but once I learned there was no stopping me. The only thing that kept me from a Life Saving certificate is that I am uncomfortable diving more than a couple of feet below the surface.
I don't spend much time in the ocean these days. I'd much rather spend my water time in fresh water. But I do remember that first ocean adventure. And to this day if I head for the Gloucester sea shore I end up at Good Harbor no matter where I intended to go and no matter how clear the directions. I don't usually get lost. I have a very good sense of direction. My psyche just insists that The Beach is Good Harbor.
More: Sunday Scribblings
It is entertaining to me that there is a pulse in the blogosphere which leads to similar prompts from a variety of meme sites. One Deep Breath's prompt this week was Sea and now Sunday Scribblings has served up Ocean. And the photo I picked in response to LensDay's Smooth prompt was of an ocean beach. Makes me wonder what we'll all be thinking about next.