The First Time I Saw The Ocean, I Almost Drowned

On fear and friendship

Human Parts
Published in
4 min readJul 27, 2022


Photo by Johnbel Mahautiere on Unsplash

The first time I saw the ocean, I almost drowned. Twenty-one and high off the fact that I was breathing in ocean breezes for the first time. My friend had warned me not to go past a certain point. Warned that it was too far away to swim back without utterly fatiguing myself. The hypnosis of the waves and the sun on my back lured me. Transformed me back into that reckless eight-year-old whose doctors said would never walk or ride a bike or talk. Told my parents I would never have the necessary inner balance. Today, I ride my bike constantly and will ramble your ear off in a minute when I’m excited. It only cost me a perpetually bruised left leg, one headfirst slam into a wall, and the wish to be heard.

“Almost every woman I have ever met has a secret belief that she is just on the edge of madness, that there is some deep, crazy part within her, that she must be on guard constantly against ‘losing control’ — of her temper, of her appetite, of her sexuality, of her feelings, of her ambition, of her secret fantasies, of her mind.”-Elana Dykewomon, Notes For A Magazine

When I was a child, I loved the idea of stepping into the ocean and being swept to another land. No boat. No plank. Bare feet. Bare soul. Wash up on a distant shore. When I learned of triangles that could swallow a person whole, my intrigue only grew. Going under the waves has never scared me. I’d imagine my lungs adapting-flexing to turn water into air-absorbing the oxygen.

The lack of solid ground feels simultaneously like falling, floating, and flying. I can’t plan the currents. Can’t schedule the waves. Strangely, I wouldn’t want to. Part of the ocean’s charm is that I’ve never wanted to control it. Just wanted to be received while parts of me were swept away or torn away. With almost everything in life — jobs, ideals, relationships — I wander too deep. Almost always left with no map, no traction, miles away from the nearest shore.