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Aug. 16, 2010 by Judy

A Word About Water:

Water.  Where to begin, where to begin.  I would like to write a love song about water.  I would like to explain how it saves my life.  I would like to touch it, somehow, and then transmit that touch.  Water water water.  Let me think.

My earliest memory of water was in some (seemingly infinite, in memory) water park in Germany. My mom and I left Germany when I was 5 and moved to San Antonio, so I was very young.  My memory of this water park is of braided crystal movement, tunnels and fountains, everything rushing and falling.  My memories are unformed, but they're happy.  I still dream about something like this place, but in my dreams the channels are rivers.

In Texas, growing up, I was surrounded by lakes and rivers.  Central Texas is the former bottom of the Permian sea, so it's limestone, and it's full of water, and water comes up and leaks out everywhere.  I spent my childhood and teenhood and 20s in lakes, springs, rivers.  I spent it walking on dams over which water was sheeting.  I spent it snorkling after freshwater fish, testing myself against river currents, taking in the smell of wet rock and wet plants.  I see water and I want to get in it, right away.

Water.  When I was a teen I had a dream that I was travelling the universe looking for the perfect shade of blue.  I found it orbiting a far planet, a disk of perfect deepwater blue, turning against the forever night of space.

I dream about water obsessively, like a haunting.  I dream about falling into it from the sky, passing burnt orange cliffs on the way down, the water bluer than blue.  I dream about breathing underwater, about red sandstone hills rising at the water's edge, and whales rising to hang in the air.  I dream about underwater mazes, whole river systems underlaying cities, hidden ruins in jungles with vast, tiled basins and falls.  I dream about bridges that float on the water, driving through breaking waves on those bridges which rise and fall with the swells.  I dream about slipping down falls, and even about rivers of light that are also water, but in which you can lay, and sleep, while the light flows over you.

Water, my friend, is big for me.

When I went to Juneau for a summer I got in on the red-eye flight, so saw only hard, bright stars hemmed in by the blackness that is the mountain range around the 'city'.  I woke up to water everywhere, running off of everything from the high snowfields into a fjord that was both salt and fresh, and the stones smelled clean and wet, and everywhere the spring snows were melting.  That was the summer I got plump from the cold and never swam, but there was water everywhere, much of it in the air.  SE Alaska is wet, wet, and although I could not live in that cold, the summers are one long green jewel of water above, around and below.

I had dreamed, for many years, of searching for the sea, for the bluegreen sea, for the skyblue sea, for the cobalt sea.  In dream after dream I could see it but never get to it--there was a fence or the road never reached it or night fell or so many distractions and impediments...when I had been in Hawaii a couple of years the dream ceased, because the water was within reach and something in me had stilled, had stopped yearning.

There are days I finish my swims and I just flip upside down and hang in the water,  looking at the color, at the impossibility of judging distance through it.  I am aware that there are huge predators around me but choose to believe that they find me too odd to eat, or maybe just today is not the day.  I once got out of a boat in the channel between the islands, the water like a sapphire shot through with light that planed down forever.  I entered the ocean and the angle of the planes of light made it seem like I was dropping straight down.  I had to roll over on my back and float to get the feeling under control.  It was exquisitely gorgeous, and exquisitely humbling, and I could not be out there for long.  

The ocean takes the edge off of all news, no matter how terrible.  It is an interesting thing to float in it and cry.  I believe it heals me, and what we are doing to it, planetwide, is killing me inside.  I have been struck mute by the beauty of water.  I have worshipped it and honored it and I still pray when I get out of the sea. In water I feel different, realigned, even joyful in a way I don't permit myself any other time.

Today I met with two oval squid on my morning swim.  There was a large one, about the size of an oval, er, animal about 10 inches long.  And there was his buddy, or mate, or foe--about half the size.  They hung below me and watched my every move, shifting color, sometimes lifting tentacles in front and then dropping them.  I tried to gently swim down to be eye-to-eye with them but they very smartly (for their longevity) were not having it--they ruffled their skirtlike fins and shifted away.  I rose back up to the surface, stretched out and just watched them think.  Squid are very, very smart.  They did likewise for me, and eventually I stopped being a bother and swam back to shore to be human again in the human world.


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