I've been dreaming of oceans lately - ocean waves crashing. I wake because the sounds of the waves are so loud, so turbulent.
It makes me think of the first and only time I took my dog to the beach. It was the week before I'd be going to the States, and it was the last chance to take her. We had been putting it off for over a year. The beach was a 2 hour drive each way, and we would have to get a permit to take the car into the park. We drove the two hours, it had been sunny the whole way, but by the time we got there we could see the storm clouds approaching the shore.
I wasn't sure how my dog would feel about seeing the ocean, she was the type to be scared of things: her own shadow, water from the shower, leaves falling too quickly from trees, the sound her leash makes on the ground if I forgot to take it off in time. When she was alone in the apartment in the evening, I realized she would just huddle silently on the couch, pretending to be invisible. "when is someone coming home??? it's dark." I started to leave a nightlight on. I had given up on the idea of a hero dog a long time ago, if ever there was someone to attack me, I knew exactly what would happen. No last minute heroism or Lassie style bravery, my dog would be desperately trying to crawl up my legs to hide underneath my shirt.
But once we reached the ocean, with the wide sand bar and the mountains and the forests - she seemed unafraid. The beach was almost isolated, there were a few sailboats, some kayaks, a few people snorkeling. My dog sprinted across the sand, sinking in it, sprinting across the water. She stared at the horizon, and I wondered if even to her it looked endless.
I was feeling meditative about it, when I turned to see her happily lapping up ocean water. She kept lapping up as much ocean water as she could, dodging me whenever I shouted at her to stop. "It's SALT!" Each time she drank, her expression was of curiosity and fascination.
We had only been on the beach for a few minutes, when I realized the storm clouds were coming closer, it was really like they were rolling in, fading out the sun. The air was getting cold and there was a sudden wind. I could hear thunder, and see the faint light of summer lightning. People were leaving the beach, dragging in kayaks and sail boats, trying to race against the rain. My dog was oblivious, the wind and the clouds only made her more excited, and she sprinted the whole of the beach, kicking up sand gleefully. She ran so fast, it looked like she was being carried by the wind. A wild animal set free. For a moment I felt terror, I thought she would run for the mountains and run away. The clouds were casting a long shadow, ready to take over the last beats of sunlight. I was shouting for my dog, but by then the wind had made it too loud to hear. I tried running after her, but it only made her run faster, and I started to panic when I realized she was running into deep pools of water.
She sank for a moment into one. And as I ran in after her, she popped back up, joyfully swimming and lapping water. She finally swam towards me, and let me pick her up, my shirt was soaked, and she kept patting her paws around my neck, leaving tracks of sand. The rain had come, dark and gray, and the wind was pushing us off the beach. She was shivering in my arms, her head turned and resting on my shoulder to look at what we were leaving behind.
When I think of it now - I feel so much regret. I wonder why I hadn't taken her to the ocean before. Why hadn't we gotten there earlier - before the storm. To make such a long drive, only for a few moments of sunlight and sand. I wonder why, when there was the possibility to bring her such joy, why we hadn't tried harder to make it last.