This photo was taken at Hillaries Boat Harbour in Perth, and is maybe my favourite picture ever. Jen and I–that’s Jen on the left with the red hair, and I’m the jerk in jeans, natch–for reasons best known to ourselves, decided that we were going to go down to the jetty and jump into the ocean fully clothed–something neither of us had done since high school, except then we were in uniforms, which tended to remain wet and cold. Her fiancee (now husband) James amazed me with the action-mode on my camera and took a whole bunch of these pictures, but this is my favourite.
When I feel sad or trapped or horribly lonely–so when I feel like I do now–I look at this picture. I remember how warm the wood of the jetty was beneath my feet. I remember nervously looking over at one of my best friends and breaking into identical, happy smiles. I remember flying through the air and the slap and whoosh as the ocean swallowed us up. The denim of my too-big jeans drifted around my legs. My hair floated away from my face and the salt crept through my tightly-pressed lips and found my tongue. When the white fizz of bubbles cleared away, I looked up through the clear green water and saw the sun.
It was so beautiful. Sometimes happiness seems like a tangible presence to me, and this was one of those days where I could have reached out and touched it. I wish that I did; I wish I’d have grabbed it and stuffed it into little bottles so that I could take them back to Chicago with me and open at my leisure.
I’ve never felt more free than I did that day we jumped. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, I’m sure of it.