So, I came home from LA yesterday after sobbing my way through the security line. Even though I know my mom will be fine and the next family shift has arrived (my cousin and brother), it was hard saying goodbye. I received no comfort in the air, watching the eight fires below me, smolder and chew their way through the mountains of my youth.
While I spent the week being there for my mom - helping her prepare her life and home for surgery and six-week recovery - I managed to squeeze in a few light moments. Now that I live in a landlocked state, I appreciate the Pacific Ocean more than ever. I brought along my ancient bikini just in case the opportunity should arise. It did.
Much like I did so many years ago, I called up Diane (I think we met in first grade ... or was it second?) and had her "meet me at the beach." I drove the 20 minutes to Sunset Beach - snuggled tightly between Seal Beach and Bolsa Chica - and plopped my stuff on the sand. I ran right into the ocean and it felt like pure heaven, like coming home. I made friends with two teenage girls, Debbie and Sophie, and dived through the waves like a wanna-be mermaid.
Later, Diane arrived and I convinced her to come back into the water with me. We were chatting up a storm, treading water when we suddenly realized we were too far from shore and could not touch bottom. We began to swim back (forgetting that we should swim diagonally) and began to assess our dire situation. Diane yelled out:
"Me too!" I yelled back.
"Are you okay?" she yelled.
And so, I flagged down a nearby surfer named Robert who promptly rescued my ass. "Here just rest on my board and then I'll tow you in," he said with absolutely calm. He'd obviously done this before. "There's a strong rip tide going on today so be careful."
"Yeah, I'll do that," I sputtered.
We got back to our towels with hearts beating and our lives still flashing before our eyes. I tried to resume the conversation and be breezy about the whole episode but Diane was having none of it.
"So ... (pant, pant) .. Diane .. (pant) ... How's the new job?"
"ARE YOU SHITTING ME?!? WE ALMOST DIED, HEATHER! DO YOU MIND??? I NEED TO CATCH MY BREATH!!!"
"Okay, yeah. You're right. That was scary."
And then we both started laughing and couldn't stop.
My re-acquaintance with the ocean had been adequately satisfied.