It was hot, much too hot and stifling for my liking. My long-sleeved wetsuit wasn’t helping, and the zippered ankles weren’t much relief. I sighed and rolled down the window. Soooo much better. The playful wind whispered in my ear, danced around my collarbone, and lifted my hair just slightly off my back. Minutes later, the harsh crying of gulls resonated through my ears, my eyes flew open, and I drew breath tainted with the salty brine smell of the ocean. It stretched out before me, gleaming and glittering in all its glory. The more daring few of the sun’s rays reached out, just barely kissing the surface of the cresting, breaking water. I pulled another long, salty-sweet breath of air into my lungs and grinned. The aquamarine water shone bright, inviting me, calling me toward its glistening depths.
The car stopped with a jolt. A heartbeat after the sound of the engine fading to a low purr and finally stopping, I shoved my door open and leapt out, bare feet skimming over the hot, hard asphalt. My friend Annie raced after me, her mom’s calls chasing us there.
“Leave our bags in a good spot on the shore!” she instructed.
“Got it!” was yelled back to her with one voice.
I crashed down a skinny cement path, dashed through some fat green succulents, and sprinted across the burning hot beach.
The water was beautifully cold, not to mention welcome. Frothing liquid swirled around my legs as I raced farther out.
A huge wave was looming, just cresting and about ready to break. I shook the water out of my eyes and ran to meet it. Its top curled slightly, folding in on itself. Foam gathered on the edge, and its rumbling grew louder and louder until it was all I could hear. I filled my lungs to their bursting point and drifted down to the rough, sandy bottom. I could feel the whitewater booming over my head, and when I could have sworn the last traces of its foam had receded, I straightened my knees and broke the glassy surface. The contrast of the ice-cold water around my long legs and the pleasant warmth of the sun on my upturned face was angelic. I soaked it all in, from the sounds and noises you would expect to be associated with the ocean to the cries of families and their friends, audible all across the beach.
A crashing sound was building, growing louder, but I had yet to pay attention to it. Too late. Suddenly another wave slapped me in the face and I fell over. Whoops, I muttered in my head. Pay attention next time, nutso!
Caught up in the rinse cycle, I rolled head over heels many times and occasionally whacked a limb or butt against the fast-passing, sandy bottom. Great move, Sophia, I thought. Do it again.
My wave seemed to be getting smaller and thinning out. It shook me in a somersault a final time and left, depositing me at Annie’s feet.
She stared at me. “Hi,” I said, staring back. Annie remained quiet. Awkward silence… I trilled internally.
She didn’t move. “Ya know, double waves are dead sneaky!” I said, slipping a crazy accent into my voice that guaranteed a laugh from Annie.
She twitched slightly. I grinned stupidly, and a smile flickered elusively across Annie’s face.
I went a step further and stuck my thumb in my eye.
Annie cracked up.
I joined in and laughed until my stomach hurt and rivers streamed down my cheeks.
That night, as I drifted on drowsy waves of happy, I realized I had learned my lesson for that day: always watch for double waves.