Landlocked

I haven’t been in the sea all week. These damn easterlies have shown no let-up, and yesterday’s swell made my stomach turn just to look at it. No clean sets, just a roiling mass of white water hurling seaspray at anyone who dared get near. The wind chill factor hurt.

This must be the first week since last April where I haven’t been in at least once. My body itches and can’t stay in one position for long. My skin feels too soft, a distinct absence of salt. I even bothered to blow-dry my hair the other day.

My fingers and toes are still freezing, but the chilblains on my feet have calmed down. To make up for that, this week I discovered my first ever finger chilblain, during the one week I don’t go in the water. Fancy that. What an exciting life I lead.

Each morning coffee, though oh-so-welcome, just doesn’t feel quite like I’ve earnt it. I bury my nose in its steam and take that first glorious sip, trying to pretend it’s a healing balm to my sea-cold core. But it’s merely a read-through, not the real thing.

The Windy app is my constant companion. I check it like a needy lover, needing more than it can give. Surely if I just will the little arrows to move round to the north they will? I live in constant anticipation of that precious ‘weather window’. There may have been one first thing Wednesday but I slept in. My frustration is suffocating.

In my daydreams I’m treading water, slowly, automatically, looking down at my bootie-clad feet in their watery world. My body immersed, suspended, free. I take a breath and go under, the cold intense and startling me awake. Then, that sacred, brief moment of clarity, completely submerged, my body a part of the ocean and it a part of me, before my buoyancy pushes me back to the surface.

I return to the present and I’m on dry land, watching the storm rage outside my window; not land-locked in the true sense of the word, but I feel like an invisible padlock is holding me captive on the land, so poetically-speaking it fits. As my body shifts restlessly I remember a phrase from a favourite poem, Morning Swim by Maxine Kumin: “My bones drank water”. That’s it, right there: my bones are thirsty.

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