Despite growing up in a country surrounded by oceans, my relationship with water has never been intimate except for baths and hot springs. Neither of my parents was a big fan of outdoor activities nor a good swimmer, so when I was a child, I did not have many chances to explore rivers, lakes, or oceans. But I was always secretly fascinated by them.
Several years ago, I was participating in a graduate summer school in south Italy, and one day, they took us all to a seaside. To my shock, everybody except me had brought a bathing suit with them. Once we arrived on the beach, people removed their clothing and started to enjoy the sun and the water.
I, on the other hand, was fully clothed with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. I had brought many books to the summer school, but not even a single pair of shorts. “Oh, well,” I thought. “I’m not a beach person, anyways.” With a small sigh of disappointment, I decided to just watch other people playing in the water. At least, I could do sunbathing.
After some time, my roommate walked over to me and asked if I didn’t want to try the water. “I don’t have a bathing suit,” I said. “So, I’m just watching.” I had already used this excuse a few times that afternoon, but she did not give up as easily as others. “Do you want to try my shorts on? They’re in my bag.” She asked. I hesitated. My roommate had much smaller body than me. I didn’t think I could fit into her shorts. But she insisted. “Try!”
With her kind help, I changed into her shorts. As expected, they were a little too small for me, and I couldn’t close the zipper properly. When I showed the problem to her, she was not in the least concerned. “Don’t worry,” she said. “Nobody will notice it.”
I was feeling so shy to approach the water almost like approaching somebody that I secretly loved. Thankfully, my roommate led me to the water like a big sister, and once we were both in the water, she and I started to walk in a circle. “It’s nice,” I said. The lukewarm water covered my entire legs. A surge of excitement ran across my body. I screamed with joy.
Seeing that I was doing fine now, my roommate left me there and went back to sunbathe. I remained in the water longer than anybody else that afternoon. I was the happiest person in the world.