Monday, April 25, 2011

The Little Girl and The Sea

When she was two weeks old her family were at her grandparents swimming pool allowing her older sister some time for fun after the first days of adjustment for the recently blooming family. Wearing a tiny pink sun suit and bonnet she rested in the shade of the afternoon within her mothers arms. Her father lifted her up and approached the pool. "what are you doing,"  her mother asked? Her father answered in a playful voice, "going swimming." Her mothers concern followed them, She can't get wet, her belly button isn't healed." The father, young but experienced, rolled his eyes," it will be fine." He dipped her pea sized toes into the water. Her mother waited for a wail to arise. But, she merely wiggled her feet. "Look Mommy. I'm swimming", her father voiced for her." Swimming, I'm swimming" gently rocking her to and fro in the pool. Floating her in his palms being cautious not to let the water rise as far as her navel. She merely rested against her fathers stomach while the warmed water caressed her legs. Perfectly content and relaxed she swam, in two foot laps across the pool.

When she was a few months old her parents, also to entertain her sister, went to a matinee at a nearby theatre that showed non new release movies at a discount. They went to see Free Willy. Her mother thought she might sleep in the darkened theatre. She sat upright in her mothers lap, quiet and still and watched the giant screen without complaint. No restlessness. She watched.

When she was two she was playing busily as her mother watched. She repeatedly opened her laundry basket lid. Peering inside she would whisper a string of words her mother could not understand and then close the lid moving on to run about the room and then return to repeat the process. She would carry toys to the basket and put them in, mumbling in a conspiratorial manner. "who are you talking to" her mother asked, "what's in there?"  She looked up and in a serious and matter of fact voice answered, "It's a whale." "A whale", her mom laughed? Yes, it's a big whale, the girl answered, He lives in the basket. It's MY whale. The game continued. Her mother told her father about the whale in the basket when he came home and how cute it was. Where did she get the idea that a whale was in the basket, they laughed? The whale stayed. For Christmas a couple months later they found a small stuffed Orca Whale and made sure Santa had it in his bag. Maybe it would be nice, they thought to have a whale that could travel along outside the basket. The little girl, loved her whale.

By chance it was during a time when Orca's just happened to be in vogue. Her mother was ecstatic that summer to find water wings shaped liked Orca's. The little girl loved them but she didn't need them for long. She had no fear of the element. She swam. She dove in and learned quickly. Once in she decried getting out. Once out she wished to be back in. The ocean massive and churning was no deterrent.  She stood with strong legs against the pounding of the waves. She would dive beneath. Ride them to shore. Catch tiny fish in a bucket and play for hours. She leaned to surf at four. She swam in the pool for hours. Learning to clamp her legs together pushing  hard to swim strong and fast, just like a whale. She spent endless summer days being a whale. When on dry land she drew and painted pictures. The majority of the time she drew Orca's. Countless sheets of paper covered with cavorting whales in various poses and even colors. All over her bedroom walls. On her lined notebook paper from school instead of her work. Shoved into folders and crammed into books.

Her parents indulged her desires. Stuffed Orcas. Miniature Sea World Sets complete with an orca family. Books, movies, posters. Even an Orca Trainer Barbie. The piece de resistance a four foot long stuffed Orca that took up most of her bed. The floor of her room was littered with small rubber replica's of ocean mammals of all kinds.  Her first day of school in first grade she sported an orca backpack and lunch box. Her mother even threw a themed Birthday party and hand drew a Pin the Fluke on the Orca game. As she grew her shelves were populated with sea life and Wyland collectibles. The stuffed Orca Pod grew to an astounding size.

As she grew she had the opportunity one summer to share the water with rehabilitated porpoise at the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys and swam with manatees in the wild. Kept newspapers clippings of Keiko when Free Willy was actually freed. The closest she could get to a living Orca was at Seaworld but it was done. Her skin shone burnished bronze through the summers. Her brown hair would be gilded gold. She kayaked the ocean and the springs. She surfed and snorkeled. She slept surrounded by sea creatures, her room an oxygen filled aquarium though if she could have lived and breathed under the sea she would have done so. She spent so much time submerged they wouldn't have been at all surprised to see her begin to evolve. Her limbs streamlined to fins. Her skin shining sleek and rubbery. Her face when she broke through the water for air was serene. Her eyes unfocused on the earth around her. She was a creature of the sea and we only curious objects she passed in her travels to better feeding grounds. If you held your head under the water you could hear the call of the whales seeking each other out in the tiny ocean of our backyard pool.

She knew the names and habits of countless residents of the underwater world. She would, she said, be a Marine Biologist. If her dream came true she would live in a tiny house on the coast in Washington State someday or among the islands of the Pacific NorthWest. She would spend her days on a boat listening, photographing and keeping records of her people. Her pod was bound to be there and she could join them. Peer from the windows of her land bound home and return their call. Be a part of their life as they were so much of hers. This dream grew for ten years.

And then one day The Girl Forgot.

Her world became populated with music and friends. She took up cello and string bass. She began to write. She began to draw more seriously and was found to be a fine artist. But not whales. Never whales. One day her mother found several bags in the hall closet and looking in found it was a burial ground. A tomb of orca's and porpoise. Going into the girls room she found it nearly bare of sea life. Stacks of books and music and art supplies. Her eye reached to the highest corner of the room in the farthest niche of a shelf and saw, only Keiko. A triumphant find years ago with his stuffed body sporting his flopped over dorsal. Lowering her eyes she found just a small group of tiny trinkets left. Still a huge fan of Wyland an underwater sculpture survives and a snow globe sporting a jumping Orca, a gift from her Grandparents, are lost amid the clutter of many interests.

The little girl no longer swam. She refused the pool saying she was tired of swimming. She shed her beach girl persona. Would no longer surf or snorkel. She said she didn't like the sand. Didn't wish to be in the sun. She was an artist. The artistic should lounge in cool darkened rooms thinking deep thoughts and contemplating melancholy moments. Her abilities backed up this choice. She hates science. The first three years of  high school she systematically refused to do well in it. She botched Biology. Spaced out in Earth Space. Refused to mix with Chemistry.
And then. During her senior year she had two choices. One of them, Physics, sounded like a lot of work  to her. But, there was an alternative. Marine Science. Easy, she could blow through that with ease. And she did.

And in the process she remembered.

She began to check books out of the library again. Refinding old scientific hero's and discovering  some new ones. For the first time in years she came home from school buzzing with something she learned in an academic class. She tells her mother about giant octopus and evil squid. About the habits of puffer fish and the life of the mollusk. Somehow the mind that rejected her past dreams awoke. The class took a field trip to Seaworld and the girl was excited for weeks. When they arrived she strode to the Orca Tanks ready to plant herself there and absorb. The exhibit was closed. And the girl cried. Embarrassing herself but unable to stop she sobbed. She finally consoled herself by buying the biggest stuffed Orca she could find and hanging out with the Beluga's for awhile.

Now her thoughts are topsy turvy as though being pummeled by the waves. It would be a harder road because of the knowlege she denied when she lost her way. She would have to work very hard to put herself into just the starting place for this dream that a Little Girl had. She will be an artist there is no question of that but perhaps she will do more. Perhaps she can combine the two. She always did as a child. Why not now? I tell the girl that it is never too late to at least try for a dream. Whatever direction she ultimately takes there is one thing for sure.

The Young Woman Has Returned to The Sea.

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  1. if i ever really get that midlife crisis tattoo, mid is designing it. hands down.

    it seems to me scientific knowledge and artistic ability have long gone hand in hand. double whammy if you can study it AND draw it. whatever direction it takes her..... YOU CAN DO IT MID!!!

  2. Lovely!! I want that painting. Seriously, I'll pay!!

  3. Elissa: Either that or be a tattoo artist ; )

    allison: Thank you. She is very cool.

    Peryl: She will be tickled to see that!I don't know if she'll part with it though...i think she's planning on turning it into a tattoo ; )

  4. Wow what an amazing change in events. Lools like she's going back to her first love.

  5. Thank goodness she found her way back!

  6. blueviolet: No, she would have some backtracking to do but it can be done.

    Nicole: I'm happy to see her letting herself enjoy these things again. If it becomes a profession that would be very cool.

    Connie: I'm glad she did even if it end up just being a change back in her lifestyle

  7. This was an awesome experience. I can't call it a story, it's too full of life and reality for that. It's the kind of story we always want to hear though.

    Beautiful drawing.

  8. Carina: Hi There! Thanks so much : ) The Girl came home explaining crustaceans yesterday and Horsehoe Crabs being similar to cockroaches in some ways. Both of which gross her mother out ; )

  9. What a wonderful story. Sometimes I like to think there is a true purpose for each of us. It is the lucky ones who figure it out young and have the opportunity to nurture it and develop it into a life's passion.

    Good luck to The Girl :)

  10. Carrie:I do believe she has a purpose. We shall see how she makes use of her opportunities. She tends to be careless with them but I think she is growing : )

  11. Hi, I wanted to stop by and thank you for stopping by my blog. In your profile I read that Robert McCammon's 'Boys Life' is one of your favorite books. One of mine, too; rare to find someone else who likes it.

    The drawing by The Girl is simply wonderful. I'm glad she's re-discovered her love of the sea.

  12. Victoria: I'm so glad you stopped by: ) That book is Awesome, I have re-read it to shreds!

  13. Dreams never die, although they may lay dormant for a while.... Did someone say that once, or am I becoming quite scholarly in my older years? LOL!


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