Lost in the waves, part one

The waves are pounding at Brackely Beach today (we have our pass back, thank-you very much), and the kids are ready to take the plunge. Every other day this summer we've been here it has been placid calm. It's probably why I don't even think about removing my glasses.

I'm out in the water with the big kids while Erin and Alice dig in the sand on shore.

We find the perfect spot to stand -- right where the curl of the wave overcomes itself and begins to churn the water to foam.

Henry: (emerging from a tumble in the water) That one was the best!

Another wave hits us.

Jane: (spitting salt water) That one was better!

I am perfecting my technique of sticking my head right into the base of a wave's curl -- do it just right and the wave sweeps you off your feet, spinning you vertically before spitting you out its back end -- when it happens. The powerful suction of the sea yanks my glasses from my face.

"My bite plate!" my mind screams.

On a nearly identical day 22 years earlier, I lost my bite plate in Lake Erie.


The summer is nearly over, and the first of the big waves of fall have begun to roll. My twin brother, John, and I practice body surfing -- something we're positive we invented. I stand up between waves and yell something to him. Out of my mouth pops my bite plate -- a little pink plastic retainer I've been wearing since my braces came off several months earlier.

Me: Oh, no!

I see it splash into the green water. A wave has just passed and is beginning to pull back into the lake. The bite plate is sucked with it in a swirl of sand, water, and green. I plunge my hands into the water, hoping my fingers will touch it. I reach and reach. It is gone.

I make the slow march to the beach to tell my mum. She is not mad, but she's not happy. She is a piano teacher and my father is a farmer -- neither careers offer much in the way of dental plan.

I sit on a towel beside her for the rest of the morning, a big lump of guilt sits in between my chest and my stomach. I should have taken my bite plate out before swimming. Stupid.


My vision is obstructed by the foam of a wave that just broke on my head. My hands grab desperately into the water before me. My left hand touches something familiar dancing in the bubbles.

My glasses.

I put them on my face, then make the slow march back to the beach. I put them safely in my bag before heading back into the water.


Craig Wesley said...

All's well that ends well. Until I got to that final passage, I had been on the verge of telling you that you were grounded for an indefinite period.

Unknown said...

Re-reading this now, I realized that if I lived in some sort of Star Trek universe, I would have reached out in modern day and grasped my 22-year-old retainer.

Craig Wesley said...

Speaking of grasping...