Reveling with the Fishes

bull sharks

Bull sharks at the Oklahoma Aquarium. I bet they miss the ocean, too.

In a roundabout way, and hardly as dramatic as I may make it sound right now, I kind of lost my marbles a few weekends ago. Utter loneliness, boredom, feelings of uselessness, and cabin fever have all taken their toll on me. So badly, in fact, that I demanded my husband find a job somewhere near the coast and move us all to an ocean town immediately. Instead, he suggested we take a weekend trip to Tulsa.

It worked, guys. It totally worked. And now I’m calm.

While I was genuinely having a good time in Tulsa touring a retired American Airlines jet and eating Scotch eggs (not simultaneously), I wasn’t aware that any particular feelings were missing. As someone born with a black cloud over my head, I immerse myself in those situations fully, in those moments when I’m happy enough. I feel like if I ask for anything more I’ll be branded as boring, selfish, or, quite frankly, undeserving.

Oh, it’s such crap, I know. But that’s sometimes just how my mind works.

And then it hit me the following day, that moment when things went from happy enough to…well, I don’t know what you call it, but the feeling is pretty fantastic.

It’s funny how our sense of smell can lighten our mood when it catches just the right scent. In the summertime, it’s the smell of charcoal grills and sunscreen. In the winter, it’s pine trees and maple syrup. The right scent for me, for just this weekend, happened to be stagnant aquarium water, but with equal parts fishiness and salt (it’s really not as disgusting as it sounds). A precise measurement, if you ask me.

On Sunday afternoon, I found myself standing next to a turtle exhibit, dipping my nose down closer to the surface and inhaling deeply. A poorly designed replica of a salt water marsh, complete with a fake egret, actually sent my heart racing. The puffer fish, the parrot fish, and even my Resting Bitch Face broke into a smile.

All those neurons that occasionally shoot off messages of happiness around my brain? They were pinging like crazy.

happy puffer fish

A smiling puffer fish


A smiling parrot fish

Note to self on how to endure future winters:

  • Vitamin D
  • SAD lamp
  • acquire tangerines from parents’ backyard tree
  • coconut scented hot tub water
  • visit an aquarium
  • close eyes and listen to this




My entire life until now has been spent near the water. The Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay, the Adriatic Sea, the Atlantic Ocean. There is no better sound in the world than that of crashing waves. As a matter of fact, I am staring at this photograph I took of a beach on Jekyll Island and listening to a nature CD that features such tracks as “Pleasant Beach” and “Big Surf”. I didn’t think it would ever come to this.

Aside from the slight bout of heat sickness I suffered two weekends ago, I was unlucky enough to catch some virus (or was it food poisoning?) that took me out last weekend, too. I came out of that near-death experience having learned two things: (1) no matter how old I am, I will always want my mother when I’m sick, and (2) sometimes there is just never enough water.

Water, and the knowledge that I desperately need more of it, has been the story of my life these past two weeks. Doctors told me years ago that I was chronically dehydrated. A therapist told me years ago that I need to learn how to relax. The solution from both of them? MORE WATER.



Water Therapy


There are some days that I think back on this boardwalk and just want to give it a hug. I want to wrap my arms around its splintered steps and rusted, jutting-out nails and tell it I love it. I want to tell it I miss it. There is a whole different world at the end of that boardwalk and I sometimes feel a desperate need to return to it.

This isn’t about Florida. This isn’t about home. I think all of that has been resolved since my recent return to Oklahoma; all that struggling with the concept of home was for naught. For a long time I will probably refer to May 30th as my ritual hazing into this Oklahomans’ Club.

No. This is about downtime. This is about how I relax, or, really, about how I used to relax and now have no idea what to do with myself. The sound of the ocean never failed to soothe my soul, to bring down my anxiety even just a tiny bit. The waves slapping into the rocks at nearby Lake Hefner have actually managed to do that a few times. I can rely on the greenery outside for only so long as autumn surely makes its way in. And then, winter. Ugh, the thought of such a dreadful season makes me anxious all over again.

Do you have any suggestions for sun loving, winter hating, Vitamin D-deficient people such as myself? Short of lingering around the shores of Lake Hefner with the snow falling around me, I have no ideas. And, like most anxious, fretful people, I like to have a plan.