I thought I would grow up to be a mermaid. My parents convinced me that microscopic scales sprouted from my ankles as a child. I plotted out all the seas and rivers in the world almanac for when my legs would finally fuse together. My father even drew up plans to convert the bathtub into an aquarium, giving me a place to stay between my eventual maritime voyages.
As I aged, I discovered that the world is far more complicated than a refreshing afternoon swim and that I would have to be far greater than a mermaid to survive in it. Stress stirs up the mind like ocean currents colliding, simply by being a high schooler challenged by Chemistry assignments, reviewing dresses to debut at homecoming, and selecting which university to entrust with my future. Then I turned 20 and life turned murkier. A millennial, a college student, a twentysomething…what did it all mean? At the same time, the magic of Rumi’s enduring poetry began to entice me. He told me “You are not just a drop in the ocean. You are a mighty ocean in a drop.” I read Laura Esquivel, one of the great modern authors of Latin America, to prepare for my semester abroad in Mexico. In La Malinche, Malinalli, the tragic heroine, remarked that since salt water [blood] courses through human veins, all of us are really our own ocean.
When I left for my semester abroad, I had a lot on my mind: improving my Spanish skills, my future career then only a year and a half away, and “gentlemen” to put it euphemistically. I frequently escaped to the beach at Progresso, and all the things under my skin diffused out–something I understood from those dreadful Chemistry courses. I was an ocean hypertonic to the one I was floating in on account of my worries. Though I was not a mermaid as I had dreamt, I finally believed them; I am an ocean too, vast and deep enough for all of my rumination, troubles, and peace, if I care to share them with something greater but equal to myself.