Montauk to NYC Swim Day #2

Woke up feeling like I’d been in a mountain bike crash.

At the marina the locals teased me about sharks.

As soon as I hit the water I got stung in the face by a Lion’s Mane jellyfish.  And then I got stung two more times.

As I stroked toward Race Rock, the surface of the ocean heaved and slopped like the contents of a washing machine. I swallowed seawater no matter which way I turned my head to breathe. I dry heaved as I crossed the imaginary line between Race Rock and Gull Island Light that marks the beginning of Long Island Sound.

My Shark Shield antenna died during the first five minutes of yesterday’s swim (don’t tell my mom).  I ordered a new one but I will swim the three sharkiest days of this swim without cover.

So now I swim and pray and try not to freak out. I pray to everyone God Jesus Poseidon Athena Saint Theresa Saint Jude Mother Mary EVERYONE.

If I dropped a civilian into the ocean out here where they couldn’t see the land for the waves and where the big fish run the table, nothing would ever be the same for them. Nothing. Ever.


Even if I debriefed with my daughters every night, I wonder whether I could language this journey for them. My dreams are peopled by sharks, jellyfish, car ferries, and french braids of plankton. I belong to some other water world but I know I don’t belong.

Sometimes I am swimming well and I'm hopeful and the sun is shining and then my cap is squeezing my head and my goggles leak and my corneas burn and I am so suddenly spent that I want to vomit and pass out and wake up under a down quilt one thousand miles from the sea.


While I was swimming today I thought of one more awful thing about divorce (mine was final in 2005): even when it's the right thing for the adults, it's a bomb blast for the family: We all crawl out of the crater in different directions. We struggle to locate and recognize our own. We are scattered across miles of space.  We will be years in the gathering.