With my ears submerged, the quiet is deafening. My back is arched and I am floating in the Mediterranean, transfixed by the stars and the nearly full moon and the stillness. The stillness is stirring within me.
Moments ago I was on a dark beach surrounded by people and words and wine until I looked at the girl next to me and we stripped down to our underthings, running screaming and smiling into the sea as its tides calmly lapped the shore. Others joined. I dove under and pushed hard off the sandy bottom to propel myself back up, gasping for air. Life felt palpable. My head felt clear.
“Where are you going?” a boy from the UK via Botswana asked me, “To the boats?”
I glanced to the horizon and the glowing gold lights of cruise ships a mile ahead of where I tread.
“I’m going to the boats!” I screamed in the the black of the night before diving again under the black of the sea. I didn’t mean it, but I think I scared him.
I leaned back and submerged my ears to escape further small talk, but I immediately fell into myself. Hard. The stillness and illumination of the sky took my breath away and I felt so small, cradled by waves. Alone, exposed, shaken: I lay confronted with myself and myself alone for the first time in a long time.
I don’t know myself or what I want. I don’t know what or who I love. I turn twenty-one tonight and I don’t know when I’ll be confident in my directions and decisions-for now that ideal seems light years beyond the ships in the water.
One last deep breath and I pull myself back up. One last deep breath and I take everything left off, holding my bra and panties above my head in the water. Others do the same. We’re laughing.
My heart is yearning desperately for something, but how can I find it if I don’t know what it is?