I feel a strong need to swim in the ocean frequently.
As a Michigander used to snow on the ground for around 5 months of the year, it is ingrained in me to take advantage of nice weather, particularly when it's coupled with such proximity to a body of water.
I don't do it daily, but I've begun to develop something of a habit of throwing on my suit and walking to the water for a quick dip in the ocean. I only go in up to my chest or so, because I'm not the strongest swimmer, I don't know these waters well, and I wear contacts that seem to lose their clingy quality quite easily when I get water in my eyes. The water isn't deep here, and there are big enough waves close to shore that I'm not just standing in the water...I'm doing a combination of standing and jumping into waves that makes me look like a child.
Some days I live vicariously through the dark heads of the swimmers that I can see from my bedroom window, between buildings, going for their pre-sunset swims. The Vietnamese avoid the sun at all costs and prefer to swim at sunrise and sunset.
A few weeks back, I joined in the pre-sunset swim festivities further north along the beach, near resorts that attract Vietnamese tourists. The beach was full, with lots of families, and upbeat, unintelligible music played over the loud speakers. I headed for the edge of the buoyed swimming area--I was already something of a spectacle as one of the few white people on the beach and didn't care to draw more attention to myself. But I couldn't help it. I found myself smiling with my arms widespread while I hopped waves. Feeling eyes on me and realizing how foolish I must look, I peeked over my shoulder sheepishly. A pre-teen Asian girl was swimming by herself, as well, wearing goggles and giggling with joy. She smiled and waved at me as if to say, "I see you're enjoying this, too--isn't it the best?" Her kindred spirit helped free my inhibitions. I hopped a few more waves, then walked back to the beach, to my coverup, across the street and back into the city, proud of my diligence.
What an agreeable duty it is, to live three blocks from the ocean.
I quit a job I enjoyed at Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and left my family, friends, and beloved dog to join my boyfriend in moving across the world, in search of adventure and new experiences. I arrived in August 2015.