That California Wave: A Memory | My Family Travels
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It was on a vacation to see my friend, in the depths of California's volatile waves. We, us two sisters in, were wave surfing. The water rushed away from our feet at the beach, and we knew a giant was coming. Without uttering another word, she swam with speed to catch and meet it – to ride it with her mere body. Less experienced, but not wanting to be left alone with the sea, I stumbled after her.

It was only then that I truly saw It. While not of Tsunami strength, the wave was pushing towards us with a force of its own. I looked back to the shore: I was too far out to make it in time. With chilling certainly, I realized that the Beast was also just out of reach for safe surfing. The water was going to crash upon my head, and there was nothing I could do to save myself. In one surreal moment, I knew I was at the mercy of Nature, of Fate.

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It felt as if hours had snaked past before It hit. In reality, it had only been mere seconds. Watching in slow motion as it crashed upon me, I only had time to suck in my breath, shut my lips, guard my vision, and brace myself. The World spun around me, and I remember the brute force and the pain it caused as the Wave crashed upon my head. In a single moment, it dragged me under its grasp.

The next few movements of the clock are both vivid and blurred; close, yet distant images. Nature's force spun and threw me around underneath its wave, dragging me against its floor and twisting my fragile muscles in ways previously unknown to them. My eyes flicked open, and I felt as the salt burned them. In one moment that I can still feel the clearest, I reached up my hand to where I was sure was Up. No matter how high I reached or kicked, my flesh never broke the surface. There was just more water, an ocean that seemed to last forever. Had my eyes not already been seared with pain, I knew tears would have formed. I thought I had reached The End; that I was going to be dragged out to sea, found wrinkled and lifeless miles from where I was. It took everything in me to contain my panic and grief, to keep my mouth from opening into an endless scream.

And just like that, it was over.

The wave thrust me against the burning sand, and my head broke into the air. In a final moment of energy, I thrust my body clumsily forward to free myself from the grip of the water. It did not pull me backwards again. Though my bare skin was scraped, irritated, and bloody, I was alive. I cared about nothing else. Even the fact the wave had stolen my magnified eyesight did not catch my attention. When it was pointed out, I mustered a smiled and joked that now the fish would have good eyesight.

Months have passed since that brush with drowning; however, the memory is still as clear as purified water. That day when the waves came close to taking me away and, in their mercy, showed me not only the fragility of life and how close to losing it we all are; but that, when this Earth decides to rage, the best thing to do is simply hold our breath and see where it takes us.

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