“The ocean is everything I want to be. Beautiful, mysterious, wild, and free.” The first time I laid my eyes on the ocean, I instantly fell in love. Ever since I was a young child I had dreamt of the moment that I would put my toes in the pure, white, soft sand. I was surprised that in only fourteen short hours, we had traveled from the green country of Oklahoma to this sand and water paradise of Destin, Florida. The white sand of Miramar Beach was astounding and attracted thousands of beach lovers. The light, as it had shown through the majestic palm trees, glistened. Residing in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I have longed for the sight of the ocean, and the moment that I laid eyes on the water was just as magical as I imagined it would be.
March 15, 2017, was the most interesting day of my life. It began a hopeful day—awaiting all the splendid activities that we had planned for our trip. However, everything did not proceed according to plan. I was so excited to be embraced by the waves that, without conscious thought or hesitation, I swam straight into the ocean. When I swam out into the ocean, I finally felt free. I felt the urge to be a part of the water. I told my sister to come swim with me because I wanted to be as far out in the ocean as possible. I started to swim and saw the waves coming. I would push myself and ride the waves like a seasoned body surfer. I swam so far from the beach that the waves morphed from the small waves near the beach to massive waves that collapsed over my head. I was pulled under by the riptide. As I would come up, I would have merely a split second to catch my breath before the next wave came crashing down. I was so far out that everyone on the beach looked like ants. Even though she wasn’t a great swimmer or prepared for the situation, my younger sister brought her boogie board out to save me. I watched her struggle with the waves, praying that she wouldn’t drown trying to rescue me. She finally reached me, and I grabbed onto the string of her boogie board so she could pull me back to safety. After what felt like an eternity of bobbing like a lost beach ball on the waves, we successfully made it back to the shore. I wish I had known that I was supposed to swim parallel to the beach when I was caught in the current—instead of swimming straight back like I had been doing. I found it ironic that when we got back to the condominium, I noticed a sign posted on the refrigerator that read, “when drowning in the ocean, swim parallel to the shore.”
This experience has taught me to be more observant of where I am and what I need to do to stay safe. Not only did I learn that it is important to pay attention to warnings, I also realized the extent to which my sister loves me—risking her own safety to come to my rescue is something I will never forget. In the midst of all of this, I still love the ocean and the feelings of being beautiful, mysterious, wild, and free that it gives me.
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