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Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Fantastic Whale Story

I was going to title this "Magical Realism, Memory, and Aging", but decided the story itself was too wonderful, and needed to separate my understanding of the story (and criticism, because in retrospect picking the story apart for all the impossibilities just ruins an absolutely lovely tale).

Yesterday I was in the parking lot.  I don't remember why.  It isn't important.  I met a woman there. I do remember her name, and I do remember her dog's name, which is extraordinary, but then so was her story, which also makes her unforgettable.

We had been talking for some time, and we had been discussing the things I had seen, planned to see, and should see since I've moved here.  She was well traveled (a former flight attendant) and we had been talking about the country in general before narrowing it down to Sonoma County, and, inevitably, that I'd been planning to go to the shore to see some whales before the migration ended.

And she told me this story, which keeps playing around in my head... and which I want to some day paint... and which turned my world upside down because I know it's not even close to possible, but it was told as a memory-- her very real memory-- of her honeymoon decades before.

Here is her tale:

My husband and I went to Hawaii on our honeymoon. It was all very beautiful and romantic.  One day we were on the shore, very near the water, dancing on the sand.  There was no music playing, the only music was in our heads, and we were dancing.

Suddenly there was a loud roar, and a whale jumped out of the water right near us.  My husband held on to me very tightly, because it made a huge wave like a tidal wave, and there was nowhere for us to go.  The whale almost hit us as it came down, and suddenly we were in the water.  I don't know how long.  We weren't separated because my husband held me so tightly, but when we came up we didn't know where we were.  We were in the middle of the ocean.  Then suddenly the water went woosh, and we were pulled under again, and washed up on the beach, still holding on to each other, sputtering water.

My husband stood and helped me to my feet, and brushed himself off and said "I guess Poseiden didn't want us. The sea spat us out" and he laughed.

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