How the Ocean Got His Tides

By Charlotte Houston, TIWP Student

Let me tell you the most destructive love story the Earth has ever witnessed.

The story begins during the planet’s childhood, but it was not bright or sunny like yours and mine. No, the Earth’s formative years were flooded in a downpour, thousands and thousands of years of rain.

That rain water never left. It became puddles that baby giants splashed in when their mamas needed them out of their volcano houses. And although the giants grew too, the puddles quickly became far too big for ever them to splash in.

So for many years the overgrown puddles were swimming holes, but they expanded so widely that that the mama giants wouldn’t even let the papa giants swim there on Sundays.

This is because there was a new light in the sky, and she was mad. She had been caught, roped around a world that didn’t even have anything to worship her on it. She spun and spun, angry at this planet’s infernal pull. The force of her attempts to escape from Earth’s orbit, however, weren’t as weak as she thought. Because far, far down below, under layers of thick toxic atmosphere, someone heard her.

The dusky blue, deep, deep puddles felt it. They felt her frustration and powerlessness and started to rage. The gravity of the Moon had not been strong enough to unstick her from the Earth’s side, but it was enough to create what we know today as the tides. The puddles were not still anymore—they became the Ocean. They rose to meet the moon, keening and reaching with waves and high tides to close the distance.

It became very apparent to the Ocean, however, that this distance was one too large to fill. The rains had stopped, and the waves were trapped at their frustratingly low heights. The Ocean longed to clutch the Moon in his watery grasp, let its light know that it was okay that she was stuck here, because he was here.

But he couldn’t. So every day and every night he crashed into every shoreline that he lapped up against until islands and giants were just rubble beneath his claw-feet. This is the Ocean’s pain, the one that levels villages and beaches whales, that plucks people from his shores and never returns them. He will never reach the Moon.

And when you stand in the waves, occasionally one will pick you up and throw you down. As you lose your sense of up and left and right and down and you surrender yourself to the salt and the sand—you can feel the same pull. You can feel the yearning in the way the waters drag you into their next crash; you can feel the helplessness in the way the riptide yanks the very ground from beneath your feet. That is the moon’s hand on your back.

The Ocean will love the Moon for the rest of their celestial lives. He will continue to pound out the rhythm of pining until there are no more coastlines to carve out.

This is not a cautionary tale about swimming in the Ocean. I know you know how dangerous that is, because you can feel it in your bones. This is a cautionary tale about love. One day, someone’s eyes will have the same pull that the light of the Moon had on the Ocean, and the same pull that the waves have on our helpless bodies. Whether blue or green or brown, those eyes will be full of unchartered depths and a magnetism you will not be able to stop reaching for.

So go swimming. Go body-surf and let your limbs surrender to the surf. Use the tides as practice. This is how it feels to—

“Papa, doesn’t it make the Moon happy though, to know how much the Ocean loves her?”

That’s the thing. All these years and the moon still doesn’t know that she’s the reason why the blue parts of the planet beneath her are so strong and beautiful.


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