Thursday, January 8, 2009

semantics by the seashore

I've been back in The Buff for a few days since a great week in SoFla (my term for southern Florida), but I can't get this one thought out of my head....Saturday was our last day at the beach, and it was a doozy of a gorgeous day--80 degrees, no clouds, no wind. Perfect. After collecting some seashells at the tide line for a while, we decided to swim into the waves and have some fun. The water was beautiful and the salt felt good on my skin.

Well, after a bit of wave jumping, a big surge came into shore, and I very suddenly and surprisingly got tossed around in the undertow like an elbow noodle on a boiling stove. (I am a very good swimmer, by the way). Holy crap. It was definitely scary, and my ankle bone hit some rock or big shell or something at some point. It started to bleed, the salt stung, fun over.

As I climbed back onto shore, I was sputtering and out of breath (I really got knocked around, actually), and bruised and astounded. But slightly exhilarated...I made my way back to the towel, dumped some fresh water on my face, took a swig, and sat down to regroup, tend to the ankle, and view the water from the sidelines.

Immediately, my little voice started singing, "I can hear the ocean's roar" from Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean." That's exactly how I felt. Like this giant, salty animal had very clearly stated that no skinny, pasty girl from The Buff could be a match for even the slightest gesture in lowtide. Well, ok then.

Next, as I sat singing the entire song "The Ocean" under my breath, I realized that I wasn't sure about the context of my little tagline from above. Was it choice #1: "I can hear the ocean's roar" or choice #2: "I can hear the oceans roar." Small little apostrophe asserts big semantic consequences. And, of course, I was at the beach, no Internet in sight. So I pondered this all damn afternoon. And I'm just now getting it on paper (as if that would help clarify).

Did I hear THIS particular part of the ocean (choice 1), the section of beachfront at Lake Worth swirling around my flailing arms and legs? Or did this represent THE ENTIRE body of ocean energy, broken into many by landmass but always roaring as one, and I was able to experience an individual and momentary connection to it?

I've checked lyric websites (which I've found to be sadly, sadly, riddled with errors to begin with) and there is a 50/50 split on the presence of the apostrophe. Hmphf.

I remember how I felt, and will defer to the meaning of Choice #2. I heard the oceans roar. One voice spoke for many as saltwater, shells, seaweed, etc, crashed into my body. Roar! Indeed!!!! I may be tough and certainly crazy, but The Ocean is no joke, and I am humbled. Had I the breath and the wits to do it, I would have roared back as I sat on my blanket, staring out at the waves. I think I chose wisely to sit quietly and sing to it, instead.


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