I can sense anxiety bumping around in my heart again, crashing against my ribs like a frantic bird in a cage that's too small. I pull on my running shoes and step out the door. Cool air hits my skin and my feet know where to go as I head in the direction of the water.
When I lived in Queens, NY my feet often found their way to the East River. It didn't matter if it was 20 degrees out and I looked like the little kid from The Christmas Story all bundled up from head to toe. I had to go. It was a matter of survival. I would walk under Hell Gate bridge and stare across the water at Manhattan. As the sun dipped lower in the sky the buildings reflected the light looking like glowing jewels.
As a native Texan there were not a lot of large oceanic-like water sources at my fingertips. The southern sky was often my mirror. Giant clouds billowed out over fields warning of impending rain or a heatwave. Sometimes even snow. My heart felt echoed as I gazed up at a sky that seemed to stretch on forever. It expressed things I could not. Anger, grief, and even joy.
For so long I taught my body not to remember. Now the sky, water, and mountains are teaching me how to breathe again. I’m thawing out.
The crashing waves echo my grief and pull apart layers of feelings that I don’t even know how to verbalize. Words that got trapped under years of solidifying granite and amber feel loosened as I look out at the waves lapping against the shoreline.
Something about the act of putting on my shoes, leaving the confined space of my apartment, and running towards the water feels like coming home to more of myself. A self who is not encumbered by words that feel stuck in her throat. Someone who feels the power of the sea surging around her.
Today, it is calm as the tide goes out. Tomorrow it might be stormy somewhere out on Puget Sound and the water that I see could be frenetic as each wave connects back to the source of turbulence. It speaks for me when I have so many words that cannot escape the protective prison that I carefully constructed so long ago.
“I have no need of you now,” I think. "You were built for someone who was small and needed protection. Now that cage is claustrophobic and I am able to protect the little one who resides in me.”
I carry an ocean within me. Rollicking waves that crash together. Streams that flow into places I have not yet explored. Pools of ice, frozen ten feet deep, that have secrets I may never understand. All this I carry with me. Behind my lips.
When I see someone else, do I recognize some of what lies under the surface of their smile? We are two waves crashing up against the other. Forever altered by the meeting.