essays by shé

Straight to the Ocean

I was conceived in the Bahamas, on my parents’ honeymoon. Nine months later, I emerged in Arizona, a desert fish. Despite my surroundings, I managed — always — to find water to splash in, swim in, and play in. Waterbaby, they called me.

My first ocean was the Pacific, off San Francisco. I was four, and according to my mother, I ran straight in. When a big wave knocked me down, I laughed, and got back up. I still do this when I’m tumbled. The ocean is hilarious.

But there was a time when I forgot this fundamental need. Rivers are great, as are lakes and ponds and streams, and even the Salish Sea. But the open ocean — she calls me. And for 20 years I ignored her, believing that a job was more important, relatives were more important, success was more important.

All lies. Ocean ocean ocean, she murmurs.

Finally I got sick enough to hear her. Dying, diagnosed with long-term mold toxicity (caused by stagnant water — hello!), I got my ass in the car and drove straight to the ocean, seventy-five miles away.

And stopped dying.

It wasn’t overnight, but it was a beginning, a commencement, a voyage back to my inner waterwoman. And healing.

Ocean Lover by Shé, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 6" x 6"
Ocean Lover by Shé, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 6″ x 6″




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