Between The River And The Sea


I’m just going to sit here if you don’t mind. I’m just going to sit on the bottom of a cool, dark pool — or really, any body of water will do. I’ll take a snorkel, or an air tank, or something with me. I would never abandon oxygen. I’ll take just enough to last until the end of spring. I just need a break. So I’m just going to sit here, if you don’t mind.

I thought about doing something more logistically manageable, like, just going to the movies. I thought about not watching the movie. I thought about just going there to watch the light from the projector flicker and dance on the white curtain. I thought about just going there to sit in the dark and think.

But that’s still on the surface and I need to be below the surface, so I don’t float away. I know that this fear sounds hyperbolic and breaks several laws of physics, but I really think I need to be under the water, just in case. I need to feel the cool wet gravity that is currently unavailable to me on land. I need the weight.

“The weight of the world is love,” Allen said. “I’d like to see you gain five or ten pounds,” my doctor said.

“I guess I’ll just get over this,” people say. I don’t think I ever will. I haven’t yet. I still remember the lilt in your voice when you said my name. I still remember everything except what I don’t know I’ve forgotten.

That was years ago now, but every spring, without fail, the warm wind flaunts your name in my face like a vicious schoolgirl. “I can see her, but you can’t,” the wind snipes at me. I am too heavy to go where the wind goes — and thank God for that. Thank God for all of my problems, stupid and otherwise. I need the weight.

I don’t want to get over this, any of it. I do want to dive under it, all of it. I want to feel the blue in the water on my blinking eyelids and content fingertips while I breathe perfectly measured air — just for a short while. Specifically, I want to sit on the bottom of the Hudson River in a silt-carpet waiting room until this stupid month is out of days. Maybe I can learn chess from an eel.

I like the Hudson River because it’s not a river. It is a tidal estuary. Or at least that’s what it is where I’m from. Estuaries form a transition zone between the river and the sea. They are subject to both marine influences. They are pulled by salty tides and pushed by riverine flows.

“Drink plenty of fluids,” is something people say. In transition zones, there are plenty of fluids. In transition zones, it’s all fluid. “You better get some rest,” is what they say in terrible movies.

Then again, being still is not particularly restful. Why not just let these brackish currents swirl me like ice in a high-ball glass? I can ebb and flow as long as I stay below the surface. I need the weight.

The thing about tidal estuaries is that the combination of sea and fresh water provides such high levels of nutrients that they are one of the most productive natural habitats in the world. So I’m just going to sit here if you don’t mind. It’ll be good for me—productive. I’m not hiding out; I’m just in the transition zone below the surface. I need the wait.

image – Paul Lowry