Kate goes for a swim

It was a rare miracle. Good weather on the Washington coast, on a Saturday. The kids had been disappointed two weeks ago. Despite the 65 degree weather, we’d dragged them away from the water once they got up to their waists.

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Seriously! It was 65! They went out to their waists!

This time, we promised, it’ll be warm enough to swim.

They ran down.

They hit the water.

And they howled at the temperature.

My youngest tried the hardest. He lasted fifteen minutes the first time, five the second, and one tiny wave the third. His sister, the pagan, who screamed that the ocean was calling her, didn’t make it past her knees. My oldest never even approached the water. He declared the wind off the ocean too cold, refused to take off his shirt, and read Harry Potter the whole afternoon.

 

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He also proclaimed the day wonderful and asked when we’d go again. I frickin’ love my kid.

I couldn’t stay away.

And the water was icy.

 

I swear I saw a jellyfish in a wetsuit.

 

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Strangely enough, I couldn’t find a picture of a jellyfish in a wetsuit. But I thought that these swim caps kinda might be what that would like that… What? You forgot that I’m crazy, didn’t you.

I couldn’t stay away.

 

It took time. Taking the youngest out helped. I got used to the cold. Slowly, so slowly. I easily turned back when my kid said he’d had enough. No questions asked.

That first fifteen minute excursion left my toes numb and legs pink. I happily left the water to play bean bag toss with the husband, and bask in the sun. I reapplied the sunblock, and walked out again at my son’s urging. When he was done I watched him run back to his dad, and then headed back in.

Why? Because my daughter comes by her pagan tendencies honestly, if I had to take a guess. And it had been twenty-years since I set foot in the Pacific Ocean.

I was home.

I was going swimming.

And it hurt. Oh, it did. I had to turn my back to the bigger waves, there was no facing that head on. And I screamed. I did. No shame. That water is cold. And no, I did not have a wetsuit, unlike that jellyfish. But it had been twenty years since I had set foot in the Pacific Ocean.

And I was finally home.

I was going swimming.

But not right that moment, because I no longer had feeling my toes, and the water was barely past my waist. I headed back to shore and played another game of bean bag toss. Then my baby tried one more time to head out, and just couldn’t take it.

So we did lunch, and debated heading out. Nobody was going swimming, right?

And seriously, have I mentioned the freaking cold of that water?

But the pull of the waves and the sound of the surf had me, and I walked in one more time.

 

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The husband said he was proud that I made it out that far, and wanted video of me swimming. But that meant him getting his feet wet, and he was not putting so much as a toe in that water.

Hit the incoming wave with your back, and yelp if you have to. Then turn around and keep walking.

 

I shivered, I yelped, and then I hit a big wave. Not too big, but bigger than anything I’d run into yet. It splashed up my back and across my face.

As soon as the water hit my lips, cold salt, open water…

And I was back, I was home.

I barely felt the cold. I looked forward to the next wave the next spray.

Walk and flex those toes. Yeah, it’s cold. Who cares! Keep walking, keep moving, get out to where you can swim.

Those kids with their boogie boards. Ha! Wimps. You ride that surf in with your body. I got this. Twenty years is nothing. I got this. Just have to get the rhythm.

Kick off… now.

And nope. I miss the crest, and go under. I come up laughing, and crying. I got this.

A few more attempts, and I still can’t quite get it. But I will.

“Mom! Mom!”

And there’s the daughter, wind-swept and clearly not having as much fun as me. The extra pounds I’m carrying have a silver lining. I can take the cold. She can’t.

Next summer, wetsuits. Maybe even for me.

Coming out of the water hurts. I may not have felt the cold, but it was there. And warmer air hurts. It’s a good hurt though. And I can taste the salt on my lips. They’ll be other trips to the beach, and warmer days. And neoprene.