“The sea, once it casts it’s spell, hold one in its net of wonder forever.” -Jacques Yves Cousteau
I remember the time I realized I was caught in that net. It was winter break in college and I was back home in Hawaii.
We went to Kalamas. We always went to Kalamas. In a sense, it was our beach. All the Kaneohe kids loved going there more than Kailua Beach, Sandys, or even North Shore. And only the spongers (term for body board enthusiasts) would go to Sandy’s or Makapu’u.
So we loaded the body boards and took two cars to Kailua.
The waves weren’t exactly up to snuff that day. Not much to say in terms of size, but the water was cool and the undulations of the water were just high enough that I had to perform a small hop with each surge of water rushing toward the shore.
It was only the guys that day. Or maybe the girls were on the sand talking (the insignificant details of the memory fades with time).
I was further out by about 5-10 feet.
It was just me and my friend Eric and we’re not too talkative as far as I can remember, although we definitely talked about some real shit back in the day. So we’re just chilling in the water, listlessly soaking in the salt and cool air (it was winter after all).
I remember the wind, the feeling of the water up to my chest, rising and falling with waves that could never crest, looking to the left and seeing the hill by Castle (Aikahi Loop is what we called the 8 mile trek), and the swirling of my trunks against my thighs as the water loosely pulled them around in different directions.
The blue water and blue sky and gentle wind. It all made me feel very at peace. Such a peace that I have not felt in very many places, in very many times. Even at other times I’ve been to the same beach, it’s been sand, friends, the crashing of the sea, the laughing of people, the barking of dogs.
That day however, the sea was casting its spell. The beach was emptier, the sun was subdued, the dogs were taking their naps. It was the utter tranquility that is usually reserved for meditations and deathbeds.
Over-romanticizing the ocean is a dangerous activity. I know well its ability to take, to get ugly, to threaten the peace. But I am a son of the waves, and have spent my life staring out into the bay and the vastness of its horizons. The feeling of wonder being on the precipice of the deep blue ocean, surrounded by nature, on the very edge of civilization. It’s simply something else.
Something euphoric, that words (at least mine), will try and fail to capture.
And I am caught in the spell of the sea.
Some days, when my head goes to an empty space, I feel it. Wind, sand, and the sea. Blue and green and brown. Shades and sounds from my home that memory cannot erase.