I Had a Nice Time

Nice, France

Words and Photos by Leilani Mitchell

A witch is just a girl who knows her mind.
— Catherynne M. Valente, from “The Bread We Eat in Dreams,”
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So you decided to go.

Good! There's some things you need to know.  At least, from my experiences.

You're going to live in a tiny space.  And it's colder than you expected. For a few weeks, maybe months, you'll miss home with an ache that seeps into your dreams at night.  But you'll have each other. You'll speak to each other through the seams of your sadness, reaching for each other, gradually pulling apart the fabric that chokes you.  Eventually, you wear it like a sweater, waiting for the summer.

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You'll see the Eiffel Tower light up at midnight.  You'll run through the halls of the Louvre right before closing time, laughing hysterically, trying to find the exit.  You'll eat an overpriced crêpe, and you won't bat an eye. 

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You'll go to Nice, like we did.  You'll spend hours lazing around, lying in the sun, jumping off rocks, avoiding eye contact with some old ladies' boobs.  You'll have picnics on the rocks as the sun goes down, and you will listen to the waves, drinking the sound in as if you'll never hear it again.  You will remark that it felt like you just got there, and now you're leaving again.

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Then you'll realize, well that was Nice and all, but you're okay with leaving.  Everything's okay even when you're out of your comfort zone.  You make friends, eventually, and you love life no matter where you are.  It took me a beautiful trip to Nice to work that out for myself.

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You'll be sad to leave, but you are okay.  I promise.  You will find the beauty in all the other things you didn't think you could see.  I promise.

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Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, it will never be where you are.
— Robert Holden
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Island View Hawaii: Aboard the Mo'o

It's a rainy morning on the north shore, and we are on our way to the harbor.  Pit stops for breakfast, water, Dramamine, a bikini change, and we are on.  We jump aboard the Mo'o with some of our favorite crew members.  We are all good friends, but we get the same low-down as everyone else.  "Remember to be calm, move slow, enjoy and leave everything else ashore." We nod our heads, and a small knot starts to form in the pits of our stomachs.  Swimming with sharks..? Okay.

It's all smiles, but the heavy feeling lingers.  We pull up to the buoy, tie off, and start putting our gear on.. Ryder jumps in first to feel it all out. One by one we line up, hang our feet off the side and plop in. 

For a minute it's scary.  But a wave of calm overcomes the nerves quick. The feeling of the cold water on your skin soothes you and all of a sudden everything feels safe.  It's you, the ocean, and sharks.  There's no time to think about anything else, everything is left ashore. 

 

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There's no time to think about your problems, or feelings.  You focus on breathing, looking, learning.  Every once in awhile a shark gets close, makes eye contact with you and the slow motion stops.  Everything catches up with you and you feel alive.  

You don’t get better on the days when you feel like going. You get better on the days when you don’t want to go, but you go anyway. If you can overcome the negative energy coming from your body or unmotivated mind, you will grow and become better.
— Georges St Pierre

There's such a preconceived evil with these creatures. Connotations with the word shark being scary, mean, aggressive.  But one day out on the Mo'o and those connotations go away.  Sharks are beautiful, powerful, majestic animals, and while they have the power to take a nice chunk out of your side, the reality is that we invite ourselves into their home, and that's on us.  

 

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