I was reading more of the Jotunbok during a moment I slunk away to use the bathroom, and got to read about Aegir and His wife Ran, and Their nine daughters: Kolga, the Cold One, Duva, the Hidden One,Blodughadda the Bloody-haired and bloodthirsty, Bara, Big Wave, Bylgia the Breaker, Hronn, the Whirlpool, Hevring, the Heaving Wave, Unn the Tide, and Himingglava the Fair Weather One. The names and personalities of these Jotnar reminded me of the Pacific Northwest where I grew up, and brought back a distant memory of almost being claimed by the ocean.
I was between the ages of 5-6, and we had only moved to Oregon within a year or so of this happening. We had driven to the coast with my dad’s mother, and we spent the day playing in the sand, finding stones and shells, and shivering. We were bundled up in sweatshirts and warm socks because the winds coming in from the water seemed to gnaw through your clothes, and into your very bones.
One important thing I learned about the Pacific Ocean is that it was never warm. Its waters were a greenish brown that beckoned with a foreboding shadow at the height of summer, the scent of salty air seemed almost like the smell of blood when a storm blew in. One might jump in quickly to cool off if you were brave enough, but the chill would banish you rather abruptly as a wave would carry in more cold water.
As of that day, I hadn’t learned of Her teeth yet, only Her chilly breath. I would run away from every wave as if it was a live beast, and only dipped my toes in once. We climbed up to tide pools and peeked into hidden pockets of living treasures, and I think I cut my foot on the sharp rocks. I became more afraid of the water, fearing that sharks might smell my blood and come eat me.
My family mocked me and thought I was being silly, but I sensed something about this water that was different from the ocean waves in New Jersey. As we were loading up the car to leave, I heard Someone challenge my bravery at the tide coming in. I thought it was my parents getting one last moment of teasing in, and decided to show them what for. Puffed up with the false bravado of a child, I scrambled back down to the sand and shouted at the top of my lungs “I can brave the waves!” and ran into an oncoming wave.
Here the memory fades, and all I can remember is a feral growl vibrating the ground as the water hit my body. The images from this pick up as I am sitting in the car wrapped in an itchy wool blanket, with sand and salt crusted on my face, shivering and crying. My parents told me that I was almost swept out to sea, and I was severely punished for putting myself in danger. I tried to say I heard Someone say I wasn’t brave enough, and that was why I ran into the water, but no one believed me.
Ever since that day I have felt called to the ocean, and whenever I have been able to visit, I have felt at peace and alive. Which is strange considering I might have drowned, but I never developed a fear of the waves after that day, only a longing to go back and see exactly Who was trying to talk to me. When we would take trips to the coast I would write messages in the sand to be washed away in the foamy wave edges that looked like lacy veils. Or I would take a small bit of my food, kiss it, and then toss it into the waves.
I also feel extremely small too, the view of the waves and horizon reminds me just how small I am in comparison to everything else in the Nine Realms. The roar of the waves still calls to me, even now, with a hollow ache in the seat of my gut.