We were all snorkeling. The four of us – mom, dad, Ryan, and me. It was beautiful. Looking at all the fish through the bright blue shades of water, feeling the slightest touch of their fins as they pass by, probably going about their normal routine. The slightest sensation when they feel some presence and skittle away – in a flash, yet with so much elegance; almost as if they are a part of the water. Causing it to flow.
The bright red coral, a stark contrast against the blue, with tiny yellow fish lounging close by. The ocean – a world in itself, nonchalant of our existence. Spinning around freely, I looked at the bubbles and tried to imitate their movements as they floated upwards in exact circles. I burst a few with my finger but decided to let them go their course, with the luxury of time – not hurrying up to get to the surface; before a few were disturbed by a face. Like us, wearing a snorkeling mask and exhaling the most perfect bubbles that moved around luxuriously, he swam towards me. Taking me by my hand, he led me to a cave, not entering, probably waiting for me to nod my head in agreement.
Pointing to my parents through the blueness, I indicated that they were the ones he needed to ask. He pointed upwards signaling that he would be waiting at the top. Flapping his legs, he lazily moved away making him look like he belonged to this beautiful universe.
We all came to the surface, pulling off our masks and gasping for breath. Taking in the view that surrounded us – water everywhere and hills far in the horizon, we bobbed on the surface. He swam to us – his movements quick and fluid. The only sounds that I heard was my heart beating incredibly loud, louder than the waves crashing all around us and louder than the calmness of the entire place.
He asked me to explore a cave with him. And all I could think about was how brave he was for asking me that in front of my family. My parents gave each other puzzled looks and Ryan giggled. They didn’t agree to let me go because they didn’t think it was safe for me to go with a stranger, but what irked me was his choice of still sticking with us after they refused.
I fell in love with him at that moment. Not in the cliché ‘love at first sight’ kind of way but the kind of love that comes when someone makes a moment utterly beautiful and breathtaking. I wanted to hold on to it and carry it with me forever. It was just those moments that we spent in what seemed like a completely different universe, with so much beauty and such breathtaking views around us, that made everything so meaningful.
And in the end, I never got his name or number. But his sunglasses had crystalized salt on them and reflected the sea. And I remember thinking – “He’ll be my favorite memory”.
And he is.