I had ventured deeper than my parents probably would have liked for me to venture alone. But I loved seeing it begin forming, rising slowly, a bump, then higher, a hill, then getting stretched up high like spaghetti, then the shiny, sparkly arch, then crashing down and the white ferocious bubbles rushing towards you. I wanted to get closest to where they were being birthed. The rush was loudest there. I got too close, in over my head, the wave churned me around and I didn’t know which way was up, my stomach filling up with that salty water and a cup full of sand. I gasped and tried to follow the light up. The Pacific ocean wanted to be sure I knew who was Boss. The wave dragged me closer to my dad’s steady legs already walking towards me. His strong hands hitting my back to be sure at least half of the sand got hacked out of my system. My heart was beating fast. Scared at the loss of control. Scared I’d be in trouble. I gasped for breath.
¿Estás bien hija? (You okay daughter?)
I’m okay. Scared but settled down a bit.
Next thing I know, instead of being taken to my mom watching from far away with her Ray Bans, my dad’s arms swoop me up. Uhm. Wait. What are we doing?! I just came from there! He’s walking me into the deep water again. Was this a sick form of discipline to show me never to go deeper into the ocean again alone?! I learned my lesson! Ain’t ever doing that no more!
Whimpering. “Papi, please, no, I don’t want to go in, please I don’t wanna play anymore.”
“You’re going with me.”
“No, papi, por favor…tengo miedo.”…No daddy, please, I’m scared.
I look at the rising waves. I look back at the beach. I look at the crashing roar that just put me in my place. I look back desperately. I’m thinking if I yell loud enough my mom will have mercy and come get me. Nothing is slowing my dad down. His arm cradling my bottom and with his other hand holding me before I jump out of his arms.
“You’re going with me Inés, you don’t have to be afraid. You have to learn to trust me. If you’re in my arms, you don’t have to be afraid. I’m not going to let you go.”
The ocean water is touching the tips of my toes now. Water up to his waist now. I want to wiggle out, up, higher, like how about I sit on his head maybe that way this dark, sandy water won’t reach me. I’m going to eat all my veggies on my plate from now on, as long as they don’t let me in this deep again. I’m crying quietly and I can’t tell if it’s tears or salt water running down my cheeks and into my mouth. In my dad I see the same boldness I saw in me minutes earlier. To go in deeper. But can someone tell him this isn’t going to end up well? In. Over. His. Head. He stops.
“It’s coming. See? You don’t have to hold on to me Inés. I’m holding onto you. Entiendes? Stop moving. I’ve got you.”
Rising. Welling. Arching. Crashing. Roaring. Approaching. Dad steady as an oak tree. I brace myself. Close my eyes shut. This time close my mouth shut. I know I will be pooping sand for days. The force crashes onto me, but I’m not swept away from his arms like I thought I would.
¿Qué te dije? ¿Viste? No pasa nada.
Sure you told me. Yes I see now. Can we go eat a mango now?
My dad has always known that I have an inherent tendency to fear. And that fear paralyzes me. So he pushes me. I will never forget that huge Pacific wave in Nicaragua that tumbled me like I was a marble. I will never forget me getting scared breathless. Spewing salt water & sand outta my nose. Burning. Heart racing. I will never forget his strong, steady arms picking me up. Come on. Get up. Let’s go. Together. Again?! Fear outta my eyes. Darting. I wasn’t holding onto him.The wave crashed. And he didn’t let go. He was holding onto me.