Saturday, July 7, 2012


He has water running through his veins. Salt water. Chlorinated water. Mountain lake water. It pumps through his body in aching impulses. Every day it's the same, "Can we go swimming?" Which is why it wasn't surprising when, somewhat out of the blue, he turned to me yesterday and said mournfully, as though a small part of his heart was gone, "I miss Hawaii."

"I do too," I said as I looked deep into his eyes. He's tan, very tan, and his hair is lighter, almost blond. A constant reminder that we spent nearly two weeks on a tropical island.


"Why did we ever have to leave?" he asked me. And while there are plenty of practical answers--work, price of gas, food costs--there is no good answer to give an almost six-year-old. 

"Well, it was a vacation. And vacations always end," I said gently because the look on his face told me that this was a very serious matter in his young life.

"I wish we could live there," he said quietly, as though he knows there is absolutely nothing in the world he can do about this for at least another twelve years. 

Twelve years. That's all I have left. That's all the time I have left to raise this tiny child. Twelve years is not enough.

"It sure would be a great place to live," I said and I thought about how my children would simply never get out of the water. Ever. I think of what we'd save on toys because they'd live in the ocean from dawn until dusk. I think of what we'd lose by buying gallons of sun block.


"Mommy," his voice had an urgency that suggested he was about to tell me something really important. Life altering. Serious stuff. "I really, really, miss surfing."

I know. I've heard that about surfing. I've heard that you do it and it becomes an obsession and you live for that next wave. I can't imagine being almost six, believing that you belong in the ocean, and being hundreds of miles from anywhere with waves.

"I know," I said and left out the rest.

"I need you to know that I really love to surf," he told me. And I nodded solemnly, hoping that he would understand that I care deeply about what he loves. Even if he only loves Hawaii and surfing for a season. Even if he moves on to football or baseball or curling or fencing. I need him to know that it matters to me.

And I suspect that he's always going to love the water. I have a feeling that, once it's there, it never stops pumping through your veins. It twists and turns and gnaws and you simply must get in the pool or the river or the lake or the sea.

I know from experience.

And I think it's genetic.

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