Atlantic Swimming

Swimming in the Atlantic makes the blood run, even when it's warm it's got a hint of winter in it. It's the kind of water Great White sharks love – the big ones. The Atlantic is not dangerous. There are hazards – rip tides, unfriendly fish, trash – all manageable. The ocean is a reliable higher power, I orient by it. When traveling, my first thought is, “where is the ocean, how far am I from it?” My family are fishermen, they've been that way for hundreds of years All of us return to to the ocean - if only in our minds. I remember Uncle Hugh, who was an easy man to love but a hard man to understand. He'd been shot up bad on D-Day. The 8th Chemical had been machine gunned to the last man - that man was Uncle Hugh. He turned, his radio backpack taking the bullets – he fled to the ocean. He swam in the water that other men drown in. He stayed afloat, he stayed alive. The ocean was his element. It kept him alive. He came home. He grew old. He taught me to ocean fish - knowing the secret hole the blue fish feed in off Moriches Inlet. The man loved the ocean, he belonged there. He knew it. I knew it. When he died, he kept saying “I'm not getting in that boat, I'm not getting in that boat!” He wasn't talking about our fishing boat. Good man.