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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

My whole life I've been a water baby. Maybe a past life version of me was an actual mermaid. Or a river otter. A river otter sounds more likely than a mermaid. Any way. I don't remember ever hesitating around water. When I was six or seven, my parents took me and my sister to Hawaii. I was too young to make a whole lot of memories, but there are a few that stand out in my brain. I remember feeding my McDonald's cookies to goldfish. I remember finding the HUGE snail in the Polynesian Center. I remember the parrot in the mall who gave me one of his tail feathers. And I remember the ocean. I remember barreling into that water, no life vest or floaties and no fear. I remember finding a broken piece of styrofoam and using it to ride the waves over and over again.  Me and the ocean were like the bestest of buddies. Except you wouldn't really know this about me now because I'm hardly around water these days. I do not have easy access to a swimming pool or a lake. I loathe the idea of putting on a swimsuit and crowds bother me. Going to the public pool takes the amount of effort that I'd rather just reserve for my yoga mat.

While we were in Orange Beach, every morning I'd wake up around six and by six thirty, you could find me on the beach, getting sand on my yoga mat. My soundtrack was the waves crashing on the beach and my teacher was a blue heron. He was there every morning in the same spot, waiting for yoga students to show up on the beach. I'd end my practice by walking down until the water and waves covered my feet. Then I'd spend some time just walking around the shoreline, my feet in the water as I combed the area for shells. If I had been thinking clearly I would have worn my swimsuit for those mornings so that when I finished my sun salutations, I could just dive in to the ocean.

But this was something I didn't do because every day was a red flag day with dangerous rip tides. The waves tumbled the Cabbage more than she was willing to be tumbled. Most of our beach time was spent chasing crabs and digging our toes into the sand. There were many good things about our trip to the ocean. We ate a different sea creature for every meal. We bought oysters and shucked them ourselves. We got to spend time with Tiffany, Tom and Allison. We had quiet nights with a cool ocean breeze on the balcony. All of the things that are lovely about beach vacations, we had it. But for me the best part was that day we spent on the bay side in the Perdido Bay National Seashore. 

Here on this beach, every shell that we picked up contained a hermit crab. We built a sand castle. Tiffany and I walked up the beach to a secluded spot to leave some of Chris's ashes. We practically had the beach all to ourselves. The water was calm and the Cabbage didn't feel the need to cling to someone for stability. The most wonderful part was swimming out into the calm waters. I would swim out so far that when I'd let my legs relax down, I wouldn't be able to feel the sand under my feet. There would be nothing but cool emptiness beneath me. I would stay here treading water and imagine that I was in the deepest of oceans. Then I would lean back and float, staring up at the blue sky and white puffy clouds. Perdido Bay is near Pensicola and the Navel Air Base. Home of the Blue Angels. I would watch the sky looking for those fighter jets, but only ever seeing the generic training plane fly over. 

This is where I remembered that I am as graceful in the water as I am on my yoga mat. My movements were as fluid as my surroundings, my body lithe and strong. This is where I remembered that I am a water baby, a mermaid, an otter. In the calm cool waters of Perdido Bay, I remembered that I am beautiful. 

Happy Love Thursday.