Friday, September 2, 2011

A Day at the Beach

I sit on the beach watching as Sam as he rhythmically bobs up and down in the waves. The sky is blue, the surf impressive; the perfect day to body surf. Sam is not alone. The ocean is full of swimmers on this hot, sunny day. There is nothing remarkable about Sam or the day. He looks like any other teen enjoying the surf on any summer day.

The rhythmic pattern continues for fifteen or so minutes. I sit, relaxed, enjoying the visual order of it all. 

Without warning, an aggressive wave takes hold, pulling most of the swimmers under water. Within a moment, they all pop back up, briefly wipe their eyes and continue their rhythmic bob in the surf.

Except for Sam.

He runs to the shore, eyes shut, aggressively shaking his head, reminding me of my childhood Shepherd. As he gets closer, I hear “I need a towel please, I need a towel please,” growing louder. The voice inflections are identical with each recitation.

He doesn’t quite remember where we are sitting or take much care to avoid neighboring blankets as he searches for us. “I need a towel please, I need a towel please.”  

“Sam” we call. “Over here, over here." He heads our way, showering those he passes with water droplets from his still shaking head. Folks nearby give a sideways glance, some with discretion. They wonder about this boy.

Sam is focused on drying his face. Mission accomplished, he drops the towel, shouts a few random, unrelated words and gleefully leaps back into the water. The rhythmic weaving resumes. And so our afternoon goes.

As the day progresses, I notice some of the kids have joined together, making new friends. Sam bobs near them with little notice. The kids glance at him, managing to keep separate. They sense a difference. He is not destined to become one of the new friends today. 

I am sad for a moment, but my focus soon returns to Sam’s bright face and his exhilaration riding the waves; his jubilant smile and complete joy. I smile too as I pick up his towel and ready it. 

All is right with the world once again. At least right now.    

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