My mother grew up in Hawaii, in Honolulu. She’s third generation Japanese in Hawaii, a ballet dancer and a farmer. She grew up surfing, and let me swim before I could walk.
I grew up in Hawaii too, and I’m back there on a break from art school in San Francisco. Being away has changed my relationship with the place I grew up. It seems almost exotic to me now, and the contrast to grime of San Francisco interests me.
My mother is calling me into the water at Makaha beach, the mass of the ocean pushing the water onto the shore. There are no waves breaking, just rising and falling swells that race up the incline of the pristine beach. I stand at the edge of the water with my arms crossed, feet sinking into the wet sand. All I can see is the power of all that water. The force of an entire ocean, the moon’s pull. She calls me in: she’s floating, rising and falling with the swells, held gently, moving her hands a little to stay afloat.
I had recently almost drowned at a nearby beach, am afraid. I am afraid and try to reconcile what she is telling me: to come in, that it’s wonderful- with a terrible fear, of my own judgement, of the ocean.
I want to trust her, to believe her, but it’s hard and I feel panicked.
I'm pretty sure she knows what she’s talking about. But I also think she would probably be alright with being swept out to sea forever, if it came to that.
Come in, Susan. It’s ok, she tells me.