In the ocean on the other side of the continent when I am little; here I am swimming in waters so blue I was not for sure if they were really waters at all. Who put the sky in this ocean?
I am with my uncle, an air force pilot just reassigned here after spending years in Nebraska
. It has been years since he has swam in the ocean so it takes him several minutes to get used to the taste of salt as sweet as vinegar
in his mouth. He knows this water is water he has missed but he is awkward in it. His big, big hands come down with open palms on the water in what he calls a breast stroke and I have to stop him and put my hands on his shaven head; finger tips right at the temple and tell him, you swim like a dork, you have to slip in and out of the water, like this. And I dart off in quick practiced strides.
We are far from the beach
, my feet can't touch the bottom anymore; in fact I cannot even see the bottom through crystal water. My uncle points to a few fins sticking up out of the water a few yards away and says, shark. I have just watched Jaws
previous to taking this trip and am terrified. Oh dear, here it is, my last moments; in water and in the company of safe hands.
When he sees my eyes he has to stop swimming long enough to laugh and calm me; it's only dolphins. Dolphins
? and my eyes become all wide and electrified, just what I wanted.
He has forgotten how in tune he could be with the water
until he swims closer to the fins and they do not disappear. Instead they are as trusting of his hands as I am and they let him run his finger down their sides. When I go closer they are not afraid of me either; he says that is because dolphins are so smart they can tell our personalities from our pheromones
alone. They let me put my small hands on their fins. They snort and whistle and make whatever sounds they are capable of. They are as much entertained by my reactions to their actions as I am to them.
The strongest one
swims a few yards away and jumps out of the water; splash, splash. When it disappears under the water and just keeps going the others follow it into the distance. They swim east; back into the ocean where they came from. My uncle and I swim west, back to the beach
We decide not to tell anyone the story about dolphins for a very long time; it is a secret, we are afraid it is too good to be true.