One day, I stopped swimming in the ocean.
I don't know the exact day. All I know is that at some point I decided I'd rather keep my hair dry and work on reading my book than get all mussed and frozen in the water.
Some time later, I put aside steamy novels. I needed to fill my mind with valuable tools, worthy thoughts, lofty ideas.
The prospect of travel began to feel like 'a lot.' I yearned for my own bed, my coffee just so, and to wake up to the view of the big tree outside our living room window.
My dreams of writing great American literature and painting bright beautiful things and clinking wine glasses at dinner parties began to feel out of touch with reality. Selfish, even.
I'm not that kind of girl anymore, I'd think.
The four-year old Dee that lives inside of me would sometimes still suggest outlandish things, like skinny-dipping or driving very, very fast or running at break-neck speed down the side of a mountain, but over time I learned how to squelch her. Now Dee, I'd say (rather patronizingly). I'm a wife and a mom and a teacher now. I'm more sensible than that. I wear sensible shoes and sensible clothes and I yearn for sensible, selfless things.
These changes to the way we look at ourselves are a slow burn, I've found. They happen so slowly, in fact, that they're hardly perceptible. They seem benign, even commendable. When we do notice them, we nod sagely and think, Ah! I must be more mature now than I once was.
But last week, my sensibility was jostled. I was in Acadia National Park with my sister, Rachel, where we'd spent two blissful days hiking and biking and kayaking. To end our trip, we'd decided to check out Sand Beach. As we walked down the steep wooden steps that overlook the beach and the water, I gasped. The water startled me, it was so blue and shimmering. The salt was thick in the air. The sand submitted to my toes, welcomed them into itself.
It was all too much. Though the wind was whipping and I didn't have a towel and I knew I'd have soggy pants the whole drive home, I shimmied out of my shorts and pulled my shirt over my head. And then I - I who am not the kind of girl to get in the ocean on a sub-85 degree day - picked up my feet and ran into the water before I could consider the sensibility of it all.
The first wave crashed over my hips, my belly, my shoulders and I was worried for a moment that my heart had actually stopped from the sudden shock of cold. But then, it hadn't. It pounded. It screamed. It laughed uproariously. I was soaked and frozen and four-years old again and I wanted to say loud enough for everyone to hear, Oh yes! This is the kind of girl I am! I remember now!
I have been thinking about that moment for a week now. This morning, before 10 AM and long before 85 degrees, I drove to the beach and stripped off my clothes and ran into the water again. I had to feel it - had to remember the kind of girl I am.
And tonight as I type this, my hair is wavy and salt-filled. I'll have to wash it and brushing it will be a nightmare, but I don't care. I'm wrapping my finger around a curl and thinking that it's time to rethink just how sensible I really care to be.
Reading books just for fun?
Choosing adventure over comfort?
Running barefoot and
writing books and
making beauty and
swimming in the Maine Atlantic Ocean?
Maybe I'm that type of girl after all.