I saw two dolphins having sex today.
My father, in an unprecedented show of paternal affection, decided that he would take me out for a Sunday boat cruise, no hard task for him seeing as he lords it over all of the boats in the Sea Ranch Marina of South Padre Island. He picked me up at my mother's house in his dinghy little Chevy Nova and we drove over the causeway, over a bay that looked like a glass top aquarium with yachts careening over the waters as if friction and the laws of physics decided to take a Sabbath that day..
I literally grew up near the ocean. After the divorce, in a rush to think of things to do with me without squandering my child support money, father would show me nature- and what better way to do it than go out into our own backyard, the sea? My mother would be horrified as I would come in on Sunday afternoons dripping wet, nonchalantly informing her that I had just spent a long day snorkeling near the sea buoy (where nurse sharks, Portuguese man o'wars, and other so-called terrors of the sea resided). As a child, I innately knew that the fish were just as scared of me as I was of them, and if you make no fit over being in the water, you have about as much of a chance of being hurt as you have of being struck by lightning. And what better way to learn about biology than to be there- smelling the salt air, feeding clown fish, subconsciously observing the circle of life? I was a pint sized Rachel Carson, studying every tide pool, every hermit crab, even the jellyfish- just trying to find some affirmation of my existence by observing another living being's .
Note to landlubbers: There is something to be said about the friendliness of the people in the boating world- even my father's rivals in fishing tournaments always make a point of waving, smiling, and saying "Hi" when we spot each other across the bay or jetties. The camarederie in the fishing industry is amazing. I experienced that today when my Dad's friend Little George (every good fisherman has at least two names, it's a law), whom I hadn't seen in five years, immediately recognized me and asked me how I was doing. Just a thought.
And there I was again today, that same 7-year old girl that wanted to be a marine biologist and would only draw dolphins and killer whales (that I would solemnly only refer to as Orcas, their proper scientific name), that idolized Eugenie Clark and Jacques Cousteau in an early fit of feminist ambition. In a slim and sexy Japanese pilot boat, we literally slid over the water, splashing salt and coolness all over my face and breasts.
And then, there they were. At the risk of losing my credibility as an unbiased observer, dolphins really are the most intelligent animals I have ever observed- when they look in your direction, they look through you, not at you. It was quite cute, really- there were three of them, a mother, father, and a child dolphin that I would guess to be about a year old in size, he was no longer nursing off of the mother. Words cannot describe the adrenaline rush you get when you lean over the hull of the boat, watching the dolphins consciously swim with your boat, studying you just as meticulously as you are studying them. I truly wonder what they think of us, how we look to them, if they feel anything when we hurt their kind. And don't think that they don't get harmed- their backs are marred with scratches and scrapes, and I was shocked to observe a small fishing hook dangling from the tip one dorsal fin.
One way to get the dolphin's attention is to tap on the hull of the boat- develop a rhythm, that way the dolphins can remember your beat when you come back and instinctively know you. My father has even named certain families over the years- usually a distinctive mark, like a cut or a unique shape of the fins, will tip him off as to which family he is dealing with.
Anyways. I stood at the bow of the boat, watching the dolphins run and jump and play, when it occurred to me that two of them, were, well... getting a little too frisky. My father, never to be ashamed by the facts of nature, watched with me as they both got it on. The people I've relayed this story so far have said something to the likes of "Eww, gross! You liked to watch that?"
But I did. So many times in life I feel as if I am trapped; I feel like I am not living to the existentialist ideals I once subscribed to; live life to the fullest. But I am trying to change that. How many people can say that they know of two worlds? That they experience nature and symmetry as it was intended, not some plastic, cubicle filled world that we create for ourselves to the exclusion of other beings? Sometimes I'm appalled at the standard of living we have, how we seem to be divorcing from nature with everything we make- TV's, computers, Walkmans, skyscrapers, artifical lights, air conditioners, all away from the world our ancestors experienced. How ironic that you can buy anything for your home with a "nature theme" that was probably processed in some factory in Bangkok. Equally ironic is the fact that the tourists buy "eco-tours" to run around the bay in some air-conditioned little boat, and perhaps get a glimpse of one dorsal fin because the guides are young and inexperienced New York City natives that wanted to work there for the summer because "Spring Break was awesome, man." How sad, really.
Thank you, God-that-I-am-ambiguous-about-your-existence torwards, thank you for this day. To use a trite teenage expression... today rocked. Amen.