My heart stopped. The cold was bracing, something else. That feeling of discomfort and pain was something I knew to be false. I tried to let it go, those worries about how cold the water was, so I could let other things go.
I dove under again and my entire chest retracted in, heart and lungs shocked by the cold, a pause to my being, a moment to consider the paused image on the screen, a step back from the movie you are watching as you run to the bathroom or to get food and you pull yourself out of the narrative you have been immersed into until you hit the pause button, and you, now outside the narrative, are able to see in this scene frozen on your television screen, a beautiful tableaux that had been eclipsed by the plot's forward momentum.
I stayed out there, floating on my back, in love with the contrast there, the cold water underneath my legs and back, and the warm sun hitting my chest and face.
The couple other folks who had braved the water soon retreated back to their towels, and for a long while, I had this little stretch of the ocean to myself. I was thankful for this still cold water, thankful that it was a little painful, that because of this, most people weren't going in the water, and I was able to float with endless water around me, feeling like I was alone and yet also because of this (only out here in the water) feeling like I was complete. I was surrounded by the elements in a more tactile fashion than I normally am. The press of water against your skin is more felt, for whatever reasons, more sensed, than that of air. It felt so nice to be embraced wholly by the water, by anything really if I were to be truthful.
Eventually I came back to the shore and wrapped myself in a towel, another embrace. I lied down, the sand underneath my beach blanket also an embrace. And I let the sun hit my cold skin. I stayed cold pretty much the rest of the day after that. Nicky and I drank vodka mixed with some cheap Ariziona drinks, coconut flavored ones, while I pointed out all the people on the beach that I was in love with. I was boy crazy and the sight of all this beautiful skin was overwhelming for me.
I smoked a lot of cigarettes. I wanted contact, wanted to feel physical sensations. I pointed out how much I loved that person, how beautiful their body was, or how I loved that person in the black shades, black baseball cap, and black swim trunks. The cigarettes were what was within reach and so I kept on grabbing for them. The roils of smoke that danced around my lungs and throat were an easy and available form of touch, of physical sensation. It was a substitution and also a salve for the longing I felt for these other sensations. It was why earlier I had taken so much pleasure from diving again and again under the incoming waves, of lying on my back out there in the dark rippling blue, glints of a reflected sun making everything else seem dark, losing myself to the sound of water around me, to the wide blue sky above me, and to the happiness felt to be present in this setting, to be so embraced by these elements, to be aware in such a strong way (which I will admit I so rarely am) that I am not distinct from this beautiful world, and to be so happy with this knowledge.