“Describe the sounds you heard the first time you swam in the ocean”
I grew up by the ocean. Not right next to it, but a not-too-far drive away from it. In the summer, going to the beach was a Sunday event. Between the days of harvest, my father would take the time on late Sunday mornings to take us all to the sea(ocean) side so that we could have a dip in the water before having a bite to eat at the restaurant poised at the top of the dune.
When I was a little girl, the ocean seemed vast, far bigger than I could even imagine. I would play at its edge, filling my pail with water so that I could trudge it back towards the dry sand and create puddles that would quickly vanish into the cool, dark depths of the earth.
The first time I swam in the ocean was with my parents. As each wave came towards us with the sound of the wind on its crest, I would imitate them as they turned their backs towards it, letting the water crash and splash against their backs. As I got older, I traveled further into the water, leaving behind the sound of people hovering at the shoreline behind me and traversing longer distances toward the deep quiet of swells that could not yet carry the name of ‘wave’.
I only got there a few times, perhaps not more than five. When I did, my ears would fill with the silent but perceptible movement of water and air.
Soft but constant. Never still. Quiet. Eternal. Not quite a sound that can be described, but one easily recognized.