A family madness drives them to the sea.
|I think I could be mad. It would not be so strange. Madness, after all, is hereditary, and my family is known for eccentricity. I have heard stories of my grandmother, all decked out in a white gown, standing for hours, leaning against the railing of a lighthouse during a raging storm, staring at the sea as if it was speaking to her. As if she could compel it up to speak to her and embrace her.
It was not long after that that she disappeared. Drowned, they say, though they never found her body. She left my father a lad of just ten. He, too, went to sea at a young age, as a sailor. Then, one stormy night, he, too vanished.
My mother, fearing some kind of watery curse in our family, dragged me shortly thereafter to the desert lands of Arizona. Perhaps she felt that crosses the continent and entering a land of parched beauty and frail, brittle, living things, could not awaken in me the hunger that drove my ancestors to their graves.
I had never seen the ocean. I was curious about it, but not enough so that I would disobey my mother-- so panicked was she by the very thought of me going near water. I was not even allowed to go to my friends' swim parties or to water parks. I never learned to swim. My only connection to water was bathing and drinking it. I never fought it. I let my mother's terror direct me away from it, though I never feared it myself.
At nineteen I saw the ocean for the first time. I did not intent to disobey my mother. It was one of those times when a bunch of college friends get together and decide to go camping for the weekend. Camping and beaches never connected in my mind, so we were well under way before I even knew where we were going.
There must be madness in this. I stand planted in the sad, staring the the wondrous expanse of breathing, living water, and something in my soul screams out to me. It is as if the ocean pulses in my veins, that the whisper of the water against the sand brushes against my skin in exquisite agony. I must be one with it! I cannot fight this madness.
I step closer to it, drawn to it as to a lover, feeling the desperate urging of my blood to touch it, taste it, be embraced by it's perfection. The wind tears at my hair as I am drawn deeper and deeper. It seems to me that my very skin changes as I slide under the water and become its creature. The waves caress me and I frolic within them, arching through the water, instinctively arching up and down through the waves, seeing the world simplified, perfect, through new eyes.
My friends call for me. Reluctantly I draw myself from my lover's embrace. I hold my new skin in my hand.
I will return to you, my love, I promise to the sea. We will be one once more.