I am lying on my back in the Pacific Ocean. My legs rise up and up until they are just grazing the surface of the water. I am drifting with the waves, softly and slowly. The sun is on my face; the insides of my eyelids are orange and hot. My submerged stomach is the dance floor of the sun and water, moving erratically in blue and white. The world is muted from below the surface; I can hear seagulls but they sound distant like dreams, the wet sound of water pressing against my ears. The world outside is distant, any world outside of this endless summer doesn’t matter at all.
Those weeks were our last hurrah. We were wildly grasping at each sun-streaked, breezy moment. Laughing as loud as we could, screaming out and running along the sea. Salt water in our hair, tangled and wild, squinting our eyes in the sun so it didn’t really matter what we looked like. Each day all the better because it was marked, and counting down, and we knew that it could not last. Our lockers, our classrooms, our contained quiet spaces with books and tests and homework would come. After this.
The seaside shacks filled with lazy vacationers and bartenders, impossibly tan, with deep wrinkles from smiling so long in the sun. The boy selling soda pop along the beach, who spoke no english but had a smile wide as a sun-ray, teeth like the shiny pearls we would steal from our mothers’ jewelry boxes when they weren’t home, and prance around like women older than we were.
The ocean here feels like that too, it glitters with a dangerous extravagance. Would our mothers come home and catch us, in their high heels and their jewels? Will we be swallowed up like the pool men, the bartenders, the permanent holiday makers, will we ever go back? Does it matter if we don’t?
It can be a good feeling, being carried by the sea. Knowing that you are so small reminds you of the forces that are out of your control. The ocean will move you as it pleases, it is bigger and wider than anything you know. There are animals without names, even, so deep down we cannot find them.
There is a distant fear, always when doing this, that a wave will crash over me and I’ll choke on the water. A shark will mistake me for a lazy seal and I’ll be eaten. I’ll drift too far from the shore and I’ll never make it back. But with my arms stretched over my head and the sun on my face, I can switch my mind off and just be. A piece of driftwood. An abandoned bottle, with a love note tucked inside. I can just be a body, gently moving.
– Jami Villers
When she’s not doing costume and wardrobe for movies like Moneyball or television series like Elementary, Southern Belle turned Brooklynite Jami Villers is an avid writer. She’s at work on her first novel, so keep an eye out for it!