A short story by Lori Correy, Nantucket, USA
It is a moonless southern Costa Rican night and the sky is very clear. We're hot, and Scott wants to take a swim. I'm cranky and a bit scared of swimming in the dark. You know - sharks, things I can't see. I settle for a cold, safe outdoor shower, but only after all the hermit crabs disperse from the puddles of water under the shower head. There seem to be hundreds of these thirsty little crabs. I wonder if they feel the same type of uneasiness I feel about the dark vast ocean, when they sense my large human foot coming their way? After cooling off, I get into the hammock and am lulled into a peaceful state by the twangy thrumming hammock strings, as they play across the porch beams of our cabina. Scott has already left for his swim - My brave naked husband who, once he goes to the water's edge, must go in. He made this pact with the ocean years ago, on Nantucket, when he was just a boy. It was most likely a mechanism to conquer the fright of a thing much bigger than his little boy self. I have never seen anyone who enjoys swimming in large bodies of water as much as he does. I love the fact that this remnant of a childhood promise still exists in him.
So I'm swinging in the hammock on this beautifully built wooden porch, looking up at the intricately thatched palm frond roof, musing over the idea that this porch is my Costa Rican temple. Suddenly, Scott comes running up the path all wet and salty, saying how there is something I really must see. I ask him what it is but he won't tell me. I'm now forced to consider getting out of this oh so comfortable hammock and leaving my temple, to go out into the darkness for who knows what. Is it worth it? He is my husband and I usually trust his judgment.
Reluctantly, I get up and walk down the dim path wondering what snake, lizard, bug, or other unnamed venomous beast might be under foot. I am a dichotomy, a wimp adventurer. A neurotic explorer who is trying, daily, to triumph over my fear of the unknown and learn about the natural world. In my own defense, this is our first visit to Costa Rica and I don't know exactly how many creatures are out in the night, or how to spot them. Let's just say my 'creature inventory' is not complete.
We make our way to the beach and I still don't see anything, except the ocean looks like it is very far away. It's a little disconcerting until I realize that the tide must be incredibly low. I think to myself 'Scott wanted me to see the beach looking three times its normal size, great, let's go back to our temple.' I'm wrong because he takes my hand and leads me to the very slick, wet, shiny part of the beach - closer to the water. Now, I'm thinking 'this guy is going to try to make me swim and I'm not falling for it.' Especially when I have to walk so far to get to the water. 'Who knows what is lurking in the sand where the water used to be?' So much for my need to understand the natural world. Fear has won out again and I'm the wimp!
Imagine my surprise when Scott stops right in the middle of the wet, dark slick of sand which is about halfway between the beginning of the beach and the beginning of the water. I'm standing there with my husband relieved that he is not trying to make me swim. But I'm also mystified as to why I am here. I feel so small standing between this huge beach and the dark starry sky. This is when Scott gives me a final direction. He says Lori, put your hands on the sides of your head so you cut off your peripheral vision and look down. First, I look at him like he is a little nuts. Then I do exactly what he asked me to do. I cut off my side vision so I can't see the tree line or the lights from the cabinas, and look down. I immediately see a perfect clear reflection of the stars on the black sand beach. The beach has become a mirror of the stars and the sky. This image makes me so dizzy I reach out for Scott's hand, to help me balance myself. It is as if my world has turned upside down and I am suspended in space. I have just stepped through a portal that is allowing me to view the world and my own being from an utterly cosmic perspective. It takes a moment to learn how to move in this new place. We take each others hand, looking down, and walk through the stars until the tide starts to change. I still feel very small, but now I'm connected to the whole universe. And it's the most beautiful place I have ever been.
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