I grew up on the water-- really, in the water. My mother claimed to have spent the entire summer the year I was two jumping into swimming pools, the ocean, etc. fully clothed, because, if I could see it, I was in it.
I grew up at the Jersey shore, so my first experiences of water involved the ocean-- cold until July, but I went in as early as late May. The water drew me like a magnet. I loved its grey-blue steeliness on stormy days, I loved its blue-green clarity at the height of the summer. I loved the way it thrilled me as I walked deeper and deeper into it, and then I loved the way it picked me up and threw me around. I loved the great breakers on which I learned to body surf. I loved the surprise of sandbars-- fleeting islands that allowed me to go farther and farther from shore, but which always went away.
In the water I had my deepest experiences of play and fantasy. I was a mermaid, I was Peter Pan and Wendy flying, I was Pixanne (anyone from Philadelphia remember Pixanne?). In the water I felt free, I felt whole, I felt.
In the water I had my first experiences of eternity. I was held in its vastness-- I knew I was in the same water that extended across the ocean, across the planet. It held me up. It buoyed me. I was suspended like a child in a great womb.
And I haven't even gotten to thirst...