At the beach. One of my favorite places. It’s late August and the majority of the summer crowds are already gone. School starts early here. Family vacations are over. There is bright sunshine, and an occasional cloud. Typical Florida beach weather.
This morning the view from my balcony showed the ocean to be dead calm. Wierd. This is the Atlantic coast, but no waves. I felt really stupid staring at my surfboard. No surfing today. Not in this swimming pool.
As the afternoon passes, lunch completed, the wind is picking up. And with it, the surf. My beach umbrella is uprooted and bounces down the wide sandy strip between dunes and water. Me in hot pursuit. Now there are whitecaps on the water as far in every direction as I can see, and the waves are growing taller. Not surfable as they are short-lived, but more aggressive. I can see a thick mud of sand and shells being tossed and tumbled by the waves. Not long ago I was up to my neck in what was then a spa like sea. Perhaps a storm is brewing somewhere past the horizon.
When the Navy had me stationed at sea I loved to be on the weather decks, outside, during my free time. The water has so many colors and textures. That practice nearly got me killed one night.
Somewhere near Italy the sea kicked up that night. Can’t tell you the size of the swells, but I can say they were big enough to make a nine thousand ton warship rock and roll! I made my way from the warm, dry and well-lit interior of the ship into the darkness of night on the fantail via the main deck starboard passageway. There was a railing there and I held on. I could see the churning water just a few feet below me, crashing into the side of the ship. Suddenly a huge wave hit us at a funny angle and I saw the water coming up and up and up. Then washing over my feet. Underwater, my boots were slippery on the flooded deck and I felt my feet slipping out from under me. I held on to the railing.
The ship bobbed, the wave subsided and once again I could see the water, once again churning below me. The distance didn’t feel quite so safe now and I decided that it was time to head in. After regaling the wardroom with the tale of my adventure, ship’s company, save for lookouts, was confined to interior spaces for the duration of the night.
That incident represent s less than ten minutes of my life. Yet it is something I will always remember. Makes for a pretty good story, even if the listener walks away thinking me a fool. Not all stories show us at our best, but they are valuable. And exciting. What’s your story? Save it for the future. www.personalhistorywriter.com