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I opened my car’s trunk to pack the backpack, in which I kept the oxygen bottle, and found my surfing wetsuit. I stood there, paralyzed, staring at him, as if I had ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in years, and with whom I wanted to remember moments lived before, in a frenetic and excited dialogue.
But the conversation turned into a monologue, and the enthusiasm was replaced by a tired melancholy.
In that trunk, I found a longing already forgotten, but still humid, smelling like mold. The sand glued to the neoprene brought memories of those days:
when I would happily wake up early and ate the first menu the fridge offered;
when I would put on the swimming suit under the wool sweaters, and get on my way, with bags distributed among both hands, wrists, shoulders, and elbows, like a walking hanger;
when I would walk for some miles through the train tracks, and for some others through rushed and fugitive feet, in the expectation of someone who is being called by the sea, afar;
when I would bury my bare toes in the freezing sand, which later became numb as they touched the water;
when I dove into the ocean as someone who just got home, and let myself be guided by the waves, in paths drawn in an improvised synchrony;
when I sat on my board, in the patient wait of someone who is filled with what can be reached, without the ruthless ambition of resting the gaze on a horizon away from sight.
Now, my skin is uniformly pale, without any trace of melanin above the neck. My hair has already lost the dried, colorless highlights that the sun once painted;
and the knot in my throat when I see the ocean, far enough so I can’t sense its smell, is too dense for the waves to undo the ties.
But today, when I opened my trunk to make space for the oxygen, and found the fluorescent wetsuit, I let it stay exactly as it was, without pushing it, not even a centimeter, to the side, to make space for the machine they say holds the air that I lack.
I didn’t take it out of my car, because it is the smell of the seaside that expands my lungs, and the blood running through my veins is salty.