Somewhere in Between, Like All Things…

Michelle Liu '23


I stand, holding a small bucket and caked with sand, before an enthralling mass of blue. When I tilt my head, highlights of navy, cerulean, cyan, turquoise, and teal seem to highlight this infinity pool—one that is exhilarating, eerie, and tranquil. This entity never sleeps, constantly shining and shining under the ethereal sun and moon. And without fail at sunset hour everyday, the refreshing blue projects against a clementine orange. The waves follow suit and crash just as beautifully, the melody to a soothing rhyme. The lull never dies but rather remains ever present in the background. Scanning my surroundings, I see inflated beach balls whirling around and hear the sound of laughter while beams of warmth target my body. The sense of utopia is highlighted to an outrageous degree, and it is infatuating, reaching the soul of all here today. Clusters of wildlife and abandoned shells dot the edges of the beautiful giant.

The tantalizing, enigmatic entity successfully draws me in. So I step into the magical container full of fluid. Here, the cool water cuts across my skin, but soon a  recurring tide hits my back in full force—a harsh push that pours a bucket of salt over me. While shaking tears out of my stinging eyes, I am pulled out of my trance, out of my foolish dream that this restless water creature was something out of a fairytale. I am brought back to the unpleasantness of reality where headlines and recent reports of shark attacks, disappearances, and death flood into my mind. Now, I know that the never-ending water mass is both an angel and demon, as yin is to yang. The magnitude of this enigmatic presence reminds me that my feet will fail to touch the bottom, causing my heart rate to accelerate and breath to hitch.  I think I’m in Grimm’s fairy tales now. My savage surrounding is one I want to escape from. Each hit, push, and pull from the waves quickens my trudge out of the water. The fear that my parents taught me about at an early age dawns upon me and becomes all too real.

But as I emerge victorious from a fight with the water, everything calms—as if time has been frozen by the power of the deities above. The currents seem soft now. Is the ocean really the terrible beast I’ve painted it as, or was I wrong? Because now the peaceful giants seem at ease, and so am I. But still, I press, I’ve seen the monstrous side of the ocean. Then again, fairytales aren’t real and neither is purgatory. Maybe this sometimes-quiet, sometimes-angered pool of water is just misunderstood sometimes and highly-praised at other times, like all things in the world. Because nothing made by this world can be categorized as good and bad; the world is far too complicated for that.