Floating along and swimming

The weekend that was:  the sea in my dreams
Photo by PJ Christine

Twice this month, I dreamt about the sea. In the first dream I was with a group of friends and with this group was a boy who used to matter a lot. We were in an upscale-looking resort house with a veranda that overlooked the ocean. The waves were quite ferocious, crashing against the walls of the house, but keeping their distance. In this dream's narrative, though the boy was there, I was more excited to dive in and swim.

A little backstory: the water & I, we have a love-hate relationship. Nearly drowning as a kid has made me pretty tense around the water- i.e. I know how to swim, but I won't dare go in without any life vest in heights I can't reach on tiptoe. Since snorkeling ranks as one of the top two things I most like to do, this has always been a wee bit frustrating.

In dream no. 2, I was on a small plane. For some reason, the plane had to go through a deep curving tunnel. When it did, a flood of sea water came rushing. With the approaching waves, the aircraft's powerful turbines did a ninja move and blew the water away. Our plane managed to fly out of the tunnel safely.

In both dreams, I saw the same clear, green water. Even with dream no. 2, it inspired neither fear or panic.

The weekend takas
Sometime last week, I stumbled upon a pretty shattering piece of news. Granted that it was probably the little kick in the shin I needed, it still hurt. Good thing Turtle and her friends from her MA classes were bound for a nondescript beach in Ilocos Sur and were welcoming enough to accommodate tag alongs. If I stayed in Manila, I knew I'd probably unravel and, just like that Postal Service song, that's when we'll explode/ and it won't be a pretty sight.

On the bus, I was thinking how I would just mope in one corner and drink myself silly once we got to our destination. I was planning not to talk to anyone. Figured it was a good time to "meditate" (yes, yes, I know alcohol and meditation don't really go together).  

But as all beach trips go, things took a different turn. For one, Turtle's friends were a wonderful bunch. Bogarts na funny at smart, ang hirap magmukmok.

After a quick stopover in Vigan where we had some empanadas and did some grocery shopping (the next sari-sari was quite a distance from the beach), everyone was put in high spirits because the "nondescript" beach turned out to be a really great place to escape to. Fine sand, bright shining sun, and complete seclusion (it was just us and the fishing community). The only blight was the uncomfortable stinging we got from the invisible jellyfish milling around the water. But given the choice between a cool hut or a smelly bar, I'd pick the jellyfish anytime as companions for my somewhat broken heart.

After dinner, I sneaked off, alcohol in a glass, and cried myself silly to Turtle.

The morning after, I woke up feeling exhausted but okay. And this water (see picture above), was waiting. Could it be the sea water in my dreams? And unlike in the previous day's bluish and gray sea, this water's jellyfish inhabitants went on their own holiday. There was little stinging for my companions and me. Yay!

The water, the sky, the deserted beach: it's what my hungover head (& weary, once-stubborn cardiovascular muscle) most needed. There's never an easy fix when it comes to dealing with heartbreak. Sometimes the only way to get through shit is to go through it and be shit. Do yourself a favor though: arm yourself with people who will look out for you and who won't take your puke or drivel against you (good thing my puke went straight to the toilet bowl).

Staring at the horizon that morning, the thought was that one does wake up, all appendages intact, and gets better. Not completely healed, not yet at least, but no longer as broken as the version of yourself that passed out drunk the night before.

Yoga in the water 
With that drama out of the way, the water transformed into a playground. Seven grown girls in the water- some were doing hand stands, others were beefing up on their basic swimming know-hows. To my surprise, I found myself treading. Wee! It was the first time I managed to tread successfully.

So comes the next part: unlearning the panic. Putting into practice the things I learned in recent yoga classes, I tried to study how my body behaves when submerged. I found tense neck muscles, head that could drop some more, stiff shoulders, and legs that got too agit when kicking.

With some breathing exercises and the mental note to relax, I tried to "let go" and be one with the sea water's flow. For starters, I practiced alternating swimming, treading, and coming up for air to breathe without panic.

I'm far from becoming an expert swimmer and I seriously need more practice swimming in deeper depths. The panic's still there, but at least we now have the awareness. The plan is to take it one relaxed baby padjak at a time and the same goes for this internal sh*tznit.

Anj, one of my bestfriends who thankfully also tagged along, taught me a word on this trip: maktub. It is a kind of claiming; a declaration of "so it shall be done." And I claim that I'll eventually arrive at getting to snorkel without a vest, skin dive and swim with the fishies, and surf freely. Maktub. 

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