Toes dig into the supple sand as frigid October water glides and froths over my feet. The waves’ crashes and calls seem louder tonight than ever before. Maybe it was the lack of human voices shouting over the ocean’s song. Or maybe it was the darkness of night, the lack of sight that let our ears open. Or maybe this was the waves releasing a long pent-up shout—a kind of catharsis from no longer being drowned out by boisterous beachgoers. In the shrouds of night, with only three girls standing witness, the water could embrace its true nature. Cacophonous. At this moment, I could understand how so many myths are born from waves. There be dragons lurking beneath the depths of the black water, reflecting only the moonlight and none of the blue skies from hours past.
It reminds me of the last thunderstorm I sat through: as the rain pounded and the thunder rang, all I could think was how it sounded like a crashing wave. And the inverse is true for the ocean: how else is there to describe a wave crash except thunderous? The ocean sounds like thunder and thunder sounds like the ocean and the crackling of the bonfire beach is a muted remix of both. No matter how I try to describe it, all the elements come together to create the same noise at different times and in different places. There is another noise steadily rising above the crashing, pulling me out of my revelry: shouts of laughter and calls to go back to the fire for more smores and abandon the booming waves of frigid water. But as I walk up the beach and away from the water, I can still hear its song—stronger than ever before—and it sounded like what I imagine the sailors of Ancient Greece heard from sirens on the rocks.
Maybe it was the lack of human presence that made it so enchanting. Usually, the crowds and tourists greedily snatch every spare square of sand and the beauty of the waves rising and falling is lost. But this late at night, as the moonlight dances and glimmers over the cresting wave and the sand around me is barren as far as the eye can see, I am reminded of my love for the beach; I am reminded of what it may have been before. Before the tourism. Before the overcrowding. Before the beer bottles strewn carelessly on the sand. Before humanity seemingly conquered nature. It is bewitching in its bareness, its simplicity. This is what the ocean always was, yet it is how I have never seen it before. Its deafening waves feel like a secret whispered to me in the dead of night, a secret that would be shared with anyone else walking the sand before the sun rises to quiet its voice. And so I walk back to the warmth of the fire and the loud, laughing voices with the waves’ sigh brushing past my hair.
Photo Credits: Nicole Snyder