The only time I feel remotely like Peter Pan is in the surf. As my wife says, there we are “untethered, unanchored.”
After the careful slog away from the shore and the dive into what feels so cold at first, I warm to the water and begin a little skipping, leaping motion off the sandbars and into or over the waves. Hoocha! I can bloody fly. This feels so goofily good that in about three seconds I’m going to start channeling Cab Calloway and bounce from foot to foot singing “Hi De Hi De Hi De Ho.” There is no sense to feeling this good. There is no sober sense in me. Awash and pushed around and happily chatting with Patti, I try to swim like Johnny Weissmuller, fail of course, and instead flail like an old goose, and then I dive under into the current and the rush of colder water over my body is one of the great sensual delights of this life. And then here come three pelicans (pelicans!) coming out of the southwest and flying in tandem, wing to wing to wing as if out of an early Disney nature cartoon. They sail directly over our heads and drop to a foot above the water where they skim to the north. Brilliant.
Walking out, swamped by breakers, ouching my way over spiky, broken shells, I emerge feeling remade, healthy, delusionally happy.
Now I can sit on my towel, a big dumb animal, big straw hat and shades and shirt covering my fair much too much burned skin and not think but just drift and watch the walkers and children and the horizon line and just listen to the white noise of the waves and the fading in and out of family conversation.