We used to have combined birthday parties at the beach in Corona del Mar when we were kids. My younger sister and I are a few years apart with our birthdays falling just a few days from each other’s. So much sandy, blistering-sunburned fun back then. A beach party was my mom’s idea of an August birthday celebration and it was good a one.

Our summer moments spent in the Pacific ocean—us three sisters hanging onto a single inflatable pool float—passed by in glorious slow motion. We’d go out beyond where feet could touch and just laugh, then abruptly and wildly scream if some kelp brushed against our feet, behaving as if we’d drifted into a school of underfed piranhas. We weren’t beachy girls. We weren’t mermaids. We were creatures belonging to terra firma. We were fair skinned and never ever tanned, just peeled after the scorching burns of summer days. None of us were necessarily strong swimmers either (hence the ever present flotation device) but this was a welcome change from spending hours at the library, or the children’s wing of Bowers Museum, or the nearby family park.

We were speckled and freckled not tanned. Not mermaid children of the sea. Being a mermaid would have been a delightfully exotic career but we weren’t born to it and we knew it.

But today as grown women who’ve each gone separate ways we stand, with both feet planted firmly on the ground and say, “I MUST be a mermaid, I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”

The best, most challenging and rewarding stuff, often lies out

there where feet can’t touch.

Stand or swim. The really good stuff is out beyond the shallows.

Image courtesy of World Market.

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