Ocean Chocolate

I grew up in Durban.  A humid, jungle-y, coastal place.  I was never really friends with the ocean.  I was always a little afraid and assumed she would prefer blonde girls with Bad Girl bikinis, rather than brunette girls with tummy rolls and blushy, pimpled faces.

I would go swimming, but mostly with my older brother, who would scoop me up out of tumble dryer waves or hold me above the water when I couldn’t stand.  Assisted swimming.  Disguised as sibling swimming.  I always hoped she couldn’t tell the difference.

This holiday, I went back to the ocean.  Still a little afraid, on the first day I didn’t go deeper than my knees.  Even when a little boy skipped past me and jumped, head first into a wave.  Giggling, because that’s what you should be doing.

That evening, around the fire I told everyone that tomorrow would be the day, all in.  ‘Up to here’, I said, patting the top of my head.  James and Joel (friend and brotherfriend) promised chocolate as a reward.

The next day, with a little bit of The Tall One hand holding and a lot of  ‘are you there Ocean, it’s me, Camilla?’, I went all in. Mid swim, James mimed plucking invisible chocolate out of the ocean and ceremoniously handing it to me.  Little, imaginary rewards for bravery.

The following day, when ocean swimming time came round again, the sky was grey, the water was angry and frothy and I was scared.  Again.  James and Joel offered more ocean chocolate.  I secretly rolled my eyes at them and told them that I was 32, much too old and wise for that game.  The ocean and I knew better.  But curiosity and wanting to be part of the brave kid’s gang took over, I fastened the tie of my swimming costume (because never mind the stage, the ocean is where all great wardrobe malfunctions happen) and swam out to meet them.

James and Joel grinned like Willy Wonka when they saw me coming.  Joel reached down into the water and pulled out a sandwich bag of M&M’s.  A soggy, smooshy, salty bags of M&M’s.  Real life M&M’s.  The bag had accidentally escaped from Joel’s pocket, the ocean’s sweet tooth perhaps, but James and Joel, the great Chocolate Sea Captains had swum around until they found it again and then waited for my timid little behind to join the brave kids.  Thank you James and Joel and The Tall One and The Ocean, you guys are ameezing.

{Above photo of The Tall One going swimming.  One of the brave kids for sure.}





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  1. Berni says:

    Wonderful! Beach swimming is quite a feat. You have inspired me to hit the waves before the summer season is over.

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