Updated: Aug 12, 2019

The sun is shining adamantly onto the sparkling blue water of Playa Caribe, whose waves are more overpowering than your Papi’s rage when he found out you had a crush on the super’s son. You take calculated steps into the ocean, surprised that the water is barely reaching your hips though you are quite far from the shore. Drowning does not occur like it does in the movies. It happens slowly, methodically, with malice and a smidge of deceit. You feel confident in your ability to walk further into the vast body of water, despite your screaming subconscious reminding you that you can’t swim. Ultimately, you confuse courage with risk and follow the pull of the waves long enough until the only thing connecting you with the earth is your toenail, picking up the captive white sand that sits below.


You are not discouraged, Mami didn’t raise a quitter. The strength of her soul radiates on the skin she wears, scarred with the realities of her past. Your grandmother took on the waves of the Caribbean sea as she embarked on her journey to freedom and a better future. So, you use the pillars of strength in your life to stand as tall as a 5 foot 4 inch frame can stand against the earth’s natural creation of water. Then, it happened.

Your toes no longer feel the granular texture of the floor beneath you. The salt of the water burns your nostrils. Your arms and legs scramble to feel the earth - you fight for your life. You told yourself that if you just kept afloat, someone would find you or the waves would be kind enough to pull you back to shore. As your arms and legs grow tired of wrestling with the ocean, your body sinks deeper into the abyss, and you question your decision to walk this far in the first place.


You relinquish your freedom to the water. The burning in your chest is your heart’s plea to your brain, “Please breathe.” After seconds of still not feeling the floor under you, though you have stopped fighting, your extremities decide this will not be the end. The blue of the sky shines bright when your head breaks the seal between water and earth. You have just enough time to give into your heart’s plea to breathe before your peripherals spot another massive wave. You are unsure what awaits on the other side, but you’ve already come this far, so you decide to ride the wave. The salt of this wave infiltrates your eyes, and your throat yearns for agua dulce from the campo you hate so much.


In time, a familiar feeling caresses your toe. You begin to feel the granular earth meet the bottom of your feet. The waves make one last attempt to bring you in but they fail. Your feet are firmly planted on the ground, you can now see the shore up ahead through the salt in your eyes. The waves know this, so they break before they reach you. The salt water expels your body while the people on shore look at you, wondering what happened.


You walk past them courageously, stand near the shoreline, and sit right where the waves take their last breath before trying to reach land again. The ground pushes back on your feet which tells you you’re safe. Here you decide what happens to you. You are in control. Here you don’t have to fight. Here you are alive.


Have you ever almostlost yourself? Have you fought to earn the right to be yourself? When you consider the people around you that hold you back, and a continuous fight for your freedom, it feels exactly the same.


Originally published on hispanecdotes.com.