The Tide That Doesn’t Come In

The Tide That Never Comes in by Ilana Drake - Photo by Auden Yurman

As Kenny Chesney’s voice sings “Cause the boat’s in the bay and it’s calling my name so I’m heading on out the door,” we look underneath our pale feet. The clear, crystal color of the water allows us to look down at the orange fish swimming, swiveling through the water, taking gulps of air in at a time. Their puffy eyes look at the ocean floor like it’s this large world that they have never seen before.

Our toes dip into the cold water, and we look around the cotton candy sky. Our eyes grow as we realize that this is a moment that counts. We are living in a world of which we have not seen enough. While the trees a few feet away stand together, our people are split on the seven continents, each person celebrating the day differently.

The ladder leading off the raft creaks as we each try to get into the water. Our heads go under, and just for this second, we are like the orange fish that are so small. Our goggles stay over us, and we try to go under, but we can’t. There’s a force that sets us apart and that doesn’t allow us to sink. It’s been ingrained in our hearts and heads since we were born. We can’t explore the green seaweed that takes up room on the bottom of the floor. We can’t look around without turning around and not seeing the “other side” of the ocean.

The raft above our heads sways back and forth as we try to descend into the blue. Our feet paddle quickly and we look both ways, just as we would with cars rushing. We slowly float back up for air, feeling our bodies rising like the sun in the morning. We bobble up and the bubblegum sky is over us.

On the other side of the ocean, there may be people running around on the sand, trying to escape their realities. There could be children on the shore building sandcastles with their bare hands and adults trying to pick up the trash around the ocean. We have heard about the thousands of water bottles along the soft, silk sand. Stories have circulated about the dolphins being brought with the tide onto the sand.

We hoist ourselves up using the edges of the raft and push our legs over the top of the structure. Our legs dangle as we use our chests to climb, yet we are almost there. We are on the edge of the raft, in the middle of the ocean. And as the pink sun sets right above us, just for a second, we realize that we are living in a different time.

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Ilana Drake is a member of the class of 2025 at Vanderbilt and is a student activist and writer. Ilana is a Rising Voices Fellowship alumna (2019-2020). Her work has been seen in The Tennessean, PBS NewsHour, and Ms. Magazine, and she is currently on YR Media's Content Creator Council.
Accompanying photo by Auden Yurman