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the dude abides

abide: transitive verb: 1.  to wait for  2.  a. to endure without yielding  b. to bear patiently  3.  to accept without objection

Sunset Beach

Today I went to the ocean.  I fell straight to the shore and stretched out in the heat of mid-day.  The shifting, formable sand cradled my body, and I was able to configure my head, neck, shoulders, and spine to achieve comfort.  What luxury! The earth’s surface was warm, like a big, loving belly beneath mine, and I imagined it rising and falling ever so slightly with the sound of the surf.  I was happy as a clam.  Watching clouds and seagulls.  Pelicans everywhere!  Big, prehistoric birds- I’m certain they know something grand that we won’t ever understand.  I always always always think of my Grandma Barbara when I see sea-dwelling birds.  Even today, as if a reflex, I imagined what words I might use to describe the birds’ strange architecture when I got home to her.  She’d want to know the details, genuinely.

Eventually, I walked into the calm sea, slinking seamlessly into the aqua waters that gleam and glittered like a gemstone planet.  It’s a breathtaking and lovely transition into this world, where gravity compromises and I feel less pain, and so can twirl and bob with ease.  I enjoy the weightlessness the water gives my body- no aching at the base of my head, no throbbing in my neck, no stiffness or grinding in my jaw. Simply the bip-bop, twirly top of my tiny bobbing body in this giant haven!  All blues and greens and diamonds and pearls.  Stay here.

After a float, I sat in the surf, loving the lil waves pulling in and out, sloshing over my feet and up my legs, while I dug my heals into the wet, shell-filled sand.  I felt the first drops of water from above and before long, dark grey clouds moved in.  A storm from the south.  I craned for the sky.  At first the clouds eclipsed the sun with a thin layer, rendering the sun a perfect white circle- like its sister the full moon- before covering it completely with opaque, grey storm clouds.  Elsewhere along the shore, families packed up to leave- parents grabbed shovels and umbrellas and coolers and kids- and groups of people ran through the surf back to their hotels, laughing and hollering and screeching.  A young woman and man to my left stayed put, sitting side by side and embracing, sipping sodas.  I stayed, too. I stretched out and felt a million little pin pricks all up and down my body.  Don’t think about illness.  Don’t think about illness.

As the rain fell steadily, I went back into the ocean, where the raindrops played the water’s surface like chimes, making a million little miracles, popping and jumping skyward from little pearly-grey rings.  I fell back and let myself float- really relax and float- closing my eyes as the rain fell harder and harder.  The current moved in dizzying directions and my body turned as if a needle on a compass, spinning around clock and counter-clockwise, and up and down with the waves.  I kept my sight on the grey sky as it shifted in and out of view through the splash of falling raindrops. I let go and allowed myself to just float, empty.  Empty empty empty.  When I was a kid, I’d never float for more than a second or two, always keeping a watchful eye on the water for a dark shape, my ceaseless imagination dazzled by the possibility of sharks.  But today the terror of sharks (hammerheads, great whites, eels, or anacondas.) was gone.  The terror of being sucked out to sea was gone.  The terror of lightning seemed improbable.  I’m willing, I realize, either way.  For this moment.  The pelicans stayed, too, moving in a singular rhythm with the wobbling sea, their bodies tucked perfectly into little egg-shapes.

After a while, the grey clouds became thin again, and the sun’s white ghost-like silhouette appeared.  It rested just near the border of the storm’s gray mass, as I stared in anticipation, waiting for the golden rays.  But it was as if the clouds stopped moving and the sun was stuck, hovering at the edge of the storm-cloud, seeming inches from a patch of wide-open blue sky.  It felt like an eternity, this celestial position.  But finally, the grey moved onward, freeing the sun in all it’s glory- piercing white and too-hot-to-see.  The beach was bright again.  I looked over at the couple next to me, who had also come into the water, and we all three smiled at one another.  This, little elsewhere; this, nowhere else (D.Ackerman).  The sun lasted for only a short while.  Shadows, again.  Then, a torrential down-pour.  I stayed on the shore a while longer.  The water and sky moved closer to the same slate-blue and the horizon became murky.  Looking darkness in the eye.  But this is not about me.

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