I hadn’t seen the sun for a couple of days because it was raining in paradise. Like really raining, like I was on some tropical island or something. The thick damp clouds filled the air, the humidity more than 100% if that’s even possible. This Rocky Mountain girl is used to seeing a horizon of some sort. There was a problem though, I could see no horizon. I knew it was out there, but I sure as hell couldn’t see it.
So, trying to be a problem solver I googled what to do when it rains. The answer is pretty much go to Costco or drive West and hope it’s not raining there. So, we did that. It was raining anywhere we could drive to. I hadn’t seen the sun for days. It’s amazing what you take for granted.
I would have been really pissed if I was a true tourist. I worked out the math. I’m pretty sure that coming here for a week with a family of four would cost somewhere in the seven thousand dollar range if you eat fast food. That’s a thousand dollars a day without anything fun planned. Seven grand just to fly and get a room and eat on the cheap…in paradise. I guess in realizing that this destination can be a trip of a lifetime for people I gave myself a gut check. A few days of rain doesn’t give me the right to pout about it. Check yourself girl.
So I made a batch of brownies, opened a bottle of wine and wrote most of this.
The rain forced me to have a moment of gratitude, to reflect. Much as the snow would back home. It forced me to slow down and to think. I reflect on the ocean I can normally see from the deck and all that it is. The white caps visible out there when its rough enough to sense the motion, even from a distance. The boats and their sails full of people drinking one too many Mai Tai’s resulting in their inability to avoid sea sickness. I do still wonder what creatures are out there lurking under the surface. I probably shouldn’t have seen Jaws as a wee one.
I learned something new about myself while I’ve been here. Maybe that’s really what paradise is for. I learned that the Ocean still scares me, or maybe now, that fear has been replaced with respect and admiration.
When the sun was out I was in the waves playing and laughing (worrying about sharks) and getting reminded of the power of the Ocean. There was a bit of a rip tide, just a bit. Normally I can ride a wave and go with the flow and swim out to the calmer water to do it again. When a wave seems to big, I close my eyes and dive beneath the churning surface where it is almost always calmer and make it out the other side. Not this time. I underestimated a wave, I wasn’t paying close enough attention and was knocked down by the one following behind. Instead of panicking, I went with it. I didn’t fight the direction something far bigger than me was forcing me to go. I didn’t try to fight. I slid on my shins (with rock star style thanks) up the shore as the wave moved me and said forcefully… You aren’t strong enough. The sand burn on the tops of my feet that I hadn’t noticed yet reminded me again as I later rinsed the salt and sand from head to toe and realized there was a visible bit of road rash. I’m sure there’s a name for road rash the ocean causes, but not being a full time ocean girl I’m not sure what else to call it. I walked away that day with a visible wound reminding me that sometimes I’m just not strong enough.
We went back to the same beach days later. The surf was bit rougher, it was windy. My wound still visible, needing a bit of sunscreen and Neosporin. ( I don’t recommend sunburning the tops of your feet, let alone a scabby one.) The real wound, that of being reminded I wasn’t strong was hidden, woven into my hot pink braided hair weighing on me.
I’ve spent hours staring at waves and how they break. The sound of each one offering an insight into how fast they can pull, the slope of the sand, the depth when they crash. The blues that change in the light. The same color as the ice blue cough drops you could pull off as candy in school when you were a kid. You can observe real power if you truly allow yourself to see it. That day, I only saw power that I didn’t have.
That day, I didn’t go out as far. I still went in even though my fear was there. Though I’m not sure it was really fear or, me knowing that my skills in swimming were just not where they needed to be that day. I couldn’t tell if it was the Bitch yelling at me in my head or actually playing it smart, so I played. Tested the waters. Literally. That day there was healthy respect, but I wanted so desperately to go farther. To seek the waves. To challenge the power. I so wanted to feel strong. On that day I wasn’t afraid, I just felt weak. The crashing of the waves with ice blues and sea foam greens put me in my place as only the force of nature can so often do. Sometimes you’re just not strong enough.
This is me calling myself on my own shit. I’ve learned to do a lot better with checking myself over the last few years, and way more so even in the last year I’ve gone rogue. It has been amazing what having the mental space available to worry about other shit besides the next email or meeting has done for me. Again, I know I’m spoiled. I’m learning to think about myself and in doing so, I’m learning to call myself on my own shit. Reflecting isn’t always easy. But it has been necessary.
I should be happy that I’m here. I mean, I did the math. I should be grateful that I am here, again. I can come back anytime I want. The birds are still chirping even in the rain as they hide in their mango trees from the drops. If I close my eyes, there’s a soft breeze and the ocean air is real, I can smell the salt. But I’m annoyed? There is a bottle of wine on the table and the sound of the breeze is there in the palm tree in the front yard. This rain doesn’t make you cold. This rain does not gift a quiet in the air like when it snows and the blanket mutes the sound of the world and forces stillness. The ground doesn’t sparkle when it rains. Unless you count the rainbow oil slicks on the ground. This rain is a constant cadence that alters how you move, but making you feel like you still have to. In the middle of the night this rain is the cadence that wakes my consciousness from sleep and reminds me to be still. Mother Nature can be one ironic bitch sometimes.
I just have to be patient, in paradise.
The rain has stopped, as it always does. This too shall pass. The birds are singing now, out on the grasses grabbing all of the grubs that have come to the surface. I will watch the clouds in the distance turn pink to orange to purple until the light has lost it’s color for the evening. Pause to breathe in the precise moment in time it appears the artist ran out of paint and almost started over. I don’t want to learn the science of sunsets, they need to stay magic. I can see the ocean on the horizon. There is, in fact a horizon, something to look forward to. I’ll get stronger. I’ll learn to ride the waves, in whatever form they take. I will remember that it’s ok to appear rough and strong on the outside with a calm smooth current under your feet reminding me it will all be ok. I’ll be patient.
I’ll learn to really appreciate paradise.
Here I am again, I haven’t really seen the sun today and was reminded of writing in paradise not long ago. I am home, but I hear the rain again. The giant drops and huge storm clouds that hide the mountains I know are off in the distance. This rain pelts and makes me cold unlike the last time it rained for days where I wasn’t feeling the need to make a pot of hot (Earl Grey) tea to warm up my bones. This rain doesn’t carry the scent of salt, rather lilacs, potting soil and hot concrete. This rain carries thunder that shakes the house and forces you to sit down.
So today, I put frozen gas station chimichangas in the oven, not the microwave, to warm the house a bit and feel like a thug foodie. I realize that tonight I can pour a glass of wine and probably make some brownies. On second thought it might be popcorn with extra butter. I will remember the waves and what they taught me. I will remember that my own calmness and strength can be found anywhere, and that is paradise.