Sometimes I remember things, especially lately, things that happened so long ago and so far away that I’d all but forgotten them. There’s no reason to remember, they just come unbidden, random thoughts floating in and out as if I’ve nothing else to do but remember things that happened in another lifetime. It’s not as if I don’t have enough to remember in this lifetime, more than I can keep up with most days, but it’s only partially up to me.
Lately it’s the waves, and not the waves from our Oregon coasts, which honestly I’ve never been in, but waves from the Southern California coast where I grew up. Not on the coast, I didn’t grow up on the coast, we weren’t coastal people, we were more drive-to-the-coast people.
And what I remember most was swimming out to the waves, and swimming past them, because they annoyed me so much, all that crashing on the shore. Sometimes they’d pull me under and I’d come back up snorting salt water and impatent. I’d swim through the waves and keep going, out where there were no waves, and the sea was still and placid, except for the lapping sounds it would make against our bodies. We could see the shore, a vague outline on the horizon. I’ve never been good at seeing without massive doses of help, so none of it was clear to me. My brother may have swum out with me, but otherwise there were no other people. No surfers that far out, because there were no waves, and honestly, I’m not sure most people would feel comfortable that far from shore, so far that if I were to drown no one would notice until it was time to go home and I wasn’t there.
By the time I had started swimming past the waves as a child I’d already developed a personality disorder. Some people call this being crazy, some people don’t, and many people live all their lives with one and never know. Life is difficult with a personality disorder. Life is difficult without one too, it’s just a little variety in the “life is crazy” departnent. Anyway, I seemed to have known my thoughts weren’t normal, so I hid them. The things in my head weren’t fit for others to hear. I always knew who I was, so it wasn’t out of my mind crazy, but I knew it wasn’t quite right. It felt right, to me, but I took pains to keep myself under wraps so people wouldn’t know. Mostly people thought I was weird, and quiet, and that I liked to read a lot. Those things are still true, but I’m much bigger now and know how wrong my thoughts were. More than I knew.
Out past the waves there was no one to judge me. There weren’t even people to see me, so how could they judge me? And while I existed in my quiet little space out on the ocean, swimming around like some kind of mutant dolphin, I could tell myself that when I got back I’d be normal, though mostly I’d look towards shore and think about all those people who had no idea I existed. Heading back to shore was always done with reluctance, and I’d usually end up someplace I hadn’t counted on, but that I’m used to now. Landing someplace unexpected is no big deal to me — I could always move on or stay there, and while doing that at nine wouldn’t really work, now it’s up to me, should I happen to take a wrong turn.