I don’t want to push. I just want to be a mermaid.
I don’t want to push. The biggest growth comes with some space, an invitation, a focus with some surprises and some mermaid flippers.
So I just arrived to Broome yesterday. I’m in awe of the red dirt here that’s more than red dirt – it’s magic and dinosaurs and blood songs and spirit all packed down into forevers. The rust against the bright blue sky makes me think I’m on another planet. Underneath it all, I just want to be a mermaid.
The only other time I felt this way was when I was in Niger. There are boab trees in Broome and when I saw one I said to my taxi driver, “Look, boabs! We had them in Niger.” I was immediately transported to my life 22 years ago in the Sahara: the wide boabs and the white moths that flew together looking like one big hand. They touched down on camel dung to feed. To me their wings made the dung sacred.
I’m just getting on my bicycle to explore. My new friend next door comes over and asks me, “Do you snorkel?”
I think about the times I strapped a mask on my face in summer camp and looked at rocks in the river, the time I was 11 and saw the stingrays in the Caribbean. And of course I snorkelled in Bali – seeing bright fish clouded by pieces of trash in the water.
“Yeah,” I say.
“Let’s go,” he says. And I decide to go because I’m new here and why not? I’ll admit I love people, but my comfort zone is my aloneness. I tell myself to try this person out.
We go to Cable Beach, where I went the night before. I walked a long way that night. Sitting in the sand I decided I was going to heal my cervix once and for all. I feel Mother in this land like she’s speaking loudly. In other places she whispers and other places she’ll slap you or hold you tightly.
The land up here is different from down south. It’s softer in some ways, hot as hell, and feminine. There’s a trickster magic. I’d imagine for some it could be too much, but I just want to lay in this land. I don’t care about seeing much around here, though the way the light changes at dusk puts me back in awe. I am very satisfied to sit and feel.
The things I worry about in 3-D.
This new friend and I clamber on rocks. I feel dubious about the waves. I’m used to having a surfboard – don’t you need still water to snorkel? But then he points how far out we will swim to where it’s calmer again. I’m game. I’m 41 but look 32 to some and right now I feel about 7. I often wonder if today will be the day that I die. Then I worry because students gave me money for trainings and privates and if I died I wouldn’t be able to refund them. Sometimes I think about a death refund policy also knowing that I probably won’t care about that once I go.
So we get in the water and I’m happy that it’s warm and I’ll be honest, I don’t care about snorkeling. The nozzle in my mouth stresses me out and I always seem to have it a little crooked and water gets into the tube. I hate mouth breathing.
I do like my flippers, but he keeps telling me I’m using them wrong.
“Fuck you! I’m a mermaid,” I think. But I smile instead because I have this old habit of politeness.
We find the reef and dive down and yes! There’s coral and fish. I’m not too impressed, but I pretend that I like it. Another bad habit in the lineage of most women – we pretend we like things.
“You don’t hold your breath for very long,” he tells me and I don’t care. My ears hurt a little and I’m not in the mood to be stressed out. Plus… what is there to see?
I want to be a mermaid.
We dive together again. He grabs my hand and that freaks me out. Who’s this dude? I did not give you permission to touch my hand. We get back up and he says, “I’m sorry, I won’t do that again.”
Inside my head I flash to the guys who fucked me, but didn’t stop when I asked them to stop and I wish more guys could be like this snorkeling guy.
We dove down more and played a game of how much we could stay down. My ears hurt and I just liked flipping around. Remember somersaults underwater?
“You should push yourself more,” he said. “You can’t kill your ears.”
And I thought about how sad my ears are usually after swimming and I don’t say anything.
“How are you going to do anything in your life if you don’t push yourself?” he said.
I thought about being 20 to Niger and almost dying twice and owning goats. Remembered how I took up the trapeze a few years ago and worked really hard to improve. Recalled how I had an international business with a self-made profession. Or how for decades I was anorexic and bulimic and now I’m not. I don’t have a problem with pushing myself.
You see, I don’t care about diving down and looking at that particular reef. If there was a dolphin or turtle, maybe. Maybe I’m more excited about gymnastics on the beach or taking a new way home to see what I’ll find. I once had a dream about hippos and the next day I booked a ticket to Zimbabwe and Botswana, so I could see more in real life.
I don’t think pushing is the way.
There has to be a temptation, a curiosity, an excitement about what could happen. Something that gets struck inside that’s wholly personal, an activation of our inner compass. Like our own one sacred relationship to God. I can’t show you what it feels like for me – or maybe I can. Where I pour my love and attention could be my own God lovedance.
I don’t want to push. The biggest growth comes with some space, an invitation, a focus with some surprises and some mermaid flippers. Because underneath it all, I just want to be a mermaid.