My ringtone sounds like a rotary phone when an incoming call arrives. It used to be “The Final Countdown” by Europe, but you know? You have to change things up after a while. Tonight my phone went off and it was Mike who seemed to want a voice to keep him company on the last leg of a drive home. We talked and I paced from room to room (my apartment is two rooms) as per my habit, which probably didn’t make my downstairs neighbor too happy, but oh well.
After a while I stepped outside and deemed the air nice enough for a walk. I slipped my rainboots on over bare feet and walked down to the ocean, talking all the way. My calf high boots are heavy plastic, the color of Welch’s grape juice with dark purple leopard spots. When Mike got to where he was going, we rang off. I tucked the phone into my back pocket and decided to stay. Alone on the beach in the dark is my favorite place. It’s just heaven. No wind tonight, not too cold. A good night to keep going. I ambled east towards my favorite place, that spot where the water has a voice and character unlike any other I’ve heard around here. The water was transitioning from low to high tide. At this moment the water was low, almost still, not interested in the toes of my boots.
I stood on the shore at the edge of the sandbar, windless, standing in puddle water when I noticed that the water started to run backward, fast, little foam crests running back and away from the shore. Riptide? I thought that only happened in big waves, in summer daylight, which was me just having a laugh with myself. From a year of being here I know that boat wake happens about 10 minutes after a large vessel has gone by, but there was no vessel to be found in any direction. Back went the water, pulling back more and more. Okay. I kept watching. Then the water started to come back in, low and normal as a breath, but then a crest out of nowhere, the water raised up high from nowhere, surging up and over my rain boots, cold water washing over the tops and I stood there in disbelief that water so calm and demure one moment could rise up and paint me for a fool, breaching my boots, soaking my calves and bare feet. This was a tidal tsunami, just a little one, and no one will believe me unless they saw it with their own eyes. I stood in disbelief because I wanted to see if it would happen again, and it did, a few times. Then the water calmed, no more crested waves; it had gone back to its puddling self, a bay shifting from low to high tide.
I’ve heard it said that we should never turn our back on the ocean. I’ve seen it too many times to say that’s just an old wives’ tale. She is an immortal being, and I am in awe of her. It’s good to be reminded of just how small and insignificant I am, and not waste a precious moment.