A big gang of us went back to Heart’s Desire Beach in Tomales Bay today. As always with this crowd of Albany Bulb Swimmers, it feels like a celebration whenever we gather in any kind of numbers.
Last time I swam here, I struggled mightily with the Moon Jellies, but eventually made a kind of peace with them. I was hopeful that I would start today’s swim further along in my journey of acceptance when it comes to swimming with wild creatures.
Unfortunately, that was not remotely the case.
Angie, Kim, Tiana, and I headed out slightly behind the gang. It was overcast and peaceful; the water a mirror of stillness.
But it didn’t take long before we punctured that calm with yelping and shrieking as our hands collided with the flesh of legions of moon jellies.
Angie quickly gave up on us and swam off to join the much more sensible swimmers ahead. But Kim, Tiana, and I got stuck in a cycle of Moon Jelly panic. I’d be swimming along, heart beating quickly, but feeling okay, and then my hand would ram into that strange, warm jelly; its body firm-but-yielding; otherworldly.
For a good twenty minutes, we were totally immersed in blooms of Moon Jellies. I felt as if I were in one of those ball pits, except, instead of balls, it was entirely filled with jellies. They were everywhere. Gelatinous undulations on every exposed part of my body. I gave up on my goggles and the front crawl; was clinging to my buoy and squeamishly kicking, my feet and legs continually smacking into Jelly flesh. I didn’t want to harm them but I didn’t want to be there, which kept me conflicted about whether or not to kick my way out or simply float along until I was free of the bloom.
Eventually, we extracted ourselves from the most congested Jelly freeway and I relaxed. I took some videos and marveled at the beauty of these strange creatures. They seem to pulse with electricity, glowing light.
On our swim back we found a pathway nearly clear of jellies and I almost missed them. By the end of the day (after filling ourselves with delicious food and company), Kim and I agreed that we want a do-over; a chance to get our shit together and stay calm in the face of all that wild beauty.