“Document the moments you feel most in love with yourself - what you’re wearing, who you’re around, what you’re doing." - Warsan Shire
I went windsurfing!
Four years ago I took Freshman Advice very seriously; I threw myself into new waters, diving into a new school, town, environment, chapter of my life on my own and determinedly forced myself to talk to anyone and everyone that happened to be within earshot. This is one thing that hasn't changed over the course of my collegiate experience: when in doubt, I'll chat it up. (Though honestly it is always more fear [fear of loneliness, fear of missing out] than confidence that pushes me to this, but the end result is the same, either way.) That same instinct was put to good use again as I embarked on this term and one of the reasons why I chased after a man on the street because of his hoodie.
"Excuse me!" I called out, tailing a tall dude in wave-emblazened black. "What's your hoodie about?" He was clearly taken aback but politely and enthusiastically told me about windsurfing, anyway. They go every Wednesday, beginners welcome. Sign me up. It took two weeks to get to it, but I managed to recruit my housemates and thus four American amateurs threw themselves into the freezing waters of a Welsh lake. Literally. We threw our bodies into the lake over and over and over again. Turns out windsurfing takes a lot more muscle than anticipated -- I never envisioned how the sail got upright, in my mind it always just was...but, no, you have to pull it up yourself. Then you have to hang on real tight and steady or the wind betrays you and everything goes tits up from there.*
I loved it, though, at least with all the parts of my body that hadn't gone numb from the cold. (My toes weren't a big fan but they'll get over it. "No one's ever lost an appendage doing this, right?" I asked the crew that was corralling us all back to shore via a small motor boat. "We have had people missing a few fingers do it!" They replied, taking a suspiciously long time to confirm it wasn't during windsurfing that the loss of fingers occurred...) During the few precious moments of standing upright, shoulders back, and gripping the angled sail without immediately losing balance I forced myself to take a deep breath and gaze ahead at the horizon. The sky was a clouded grey, thankfully dry, but smeared like dirty paintbrush water. Just above the tree line was a bright white as the sun began its descent, contrasting the forest green trees in a way almost prettier than on sunny days. The ocean lay just beyond the trees and behind me sat a small castle on a hill, as they often do in Wales.
It's these fleeting moments of serenity that I often try to solidify in my memory, "This is my life. I'm 22 in Wales and I'm windsurfing." Somehow stating the facts quietly to myself and blinking really hard and purposefully brings me fully into the present. I keep these small snapshots of myself at various ages (normally high peaks of emotion because obviously those are the most poignant, but really any moment can be infused with emotion and isn't that cool!?!?: passionately sobbing at 11, watching the sunrise at 14, clinging to my best friends at 17) in hopes of remembering at least snippets of what it felt like to be me at that age. I want to fully be able to respect my past and present self by preserving her as best as I can at least in my own mind. The fear of a failing memory is definitely one of the many reasons I'm so drawn to journaling, and even blogging. Maybe it's narcissistic -- what's so worth preserving? But fuck that, we should be important to ourselves. We're the only self we've got to know and love and enjoy and remember for our lives. Especially as constantly changing individuals we're all interesting AS HECK. Honestly, I generally love people's thoughts and feelings. I want to get to know you like I want to get to know myself. Being a person is pretty inherently interesting, everything else only adds to it.
I guess the goal is to be eighty and still be able to feel the Welsh wind on my face that I felt at twenty-two while windsurfing.