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A sea turtle named Bob

Oahu still has her secrets. There's a few places on that beautiful rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in which the majority of folks are not allowed to venture. I mean, if we were to be incredibly literal- the entire island should be like that. But, here we are... anyway, here's the story:

On the Windward side of the Island is a Bay called Kaneohe Bay, and in it, lives the Marine Corps Base. Now, already that part of the island is off limits for the majority. However, it gets even more secluded when you widdle down the areas on base that are permitted to only those with specific qualifications. I'm not just talking about the airfield or "top secret" bunkers, but beaches that are specifically designated for enlisted and officer. This segregation continues the long standing traditions of the military's special treatment of officers.

The officer's beach was located on a small portion of the base where the officer housing was positioned. You had to take a few flights of stairs to get down to the sandy cove which was protected by a cliffside on each side. Once you climb down to the beach, theres a wonderful little swimming tide pool within the cove with which it, too, is protected by the coral reef from the larger waves of the ocean. Here's the part where it pays sometimes to be young and dumb...

2 things:

1) I didn't realize how dangerous it was to be swimming alone through that coral, and-

2) I didn't know that sea turtles are largely territorial creatures.

Okay, so as you can imagine, not being an officer at the time did not stop me from venturing onto the officer's beach. My thing was, if I'm not in uniform and wearing, say, a bikini? Who's going to question if I'm any rank, and furthermore, who's to say I'm not just some officer's wife out for my tanning time? I'd sneak onto that beach as often as I could, mainly to just have some sort of autonomy over my situation in life.

Alright now once I was on the beach, I'd have my snorkeling gear and I'd sit at the water's edge and time the waves. This was important to do, because the waves would crash hard against the corral reef that was positioned at the mouth of the cove. It was like this- the sandy and safe tidal pool, then the coral reef structure, and then? Open ocean. Um... shit yeah! I wanted to go beyond the reef, I wanted to experience freedom!

Don't get me wrong, I didn't have a death wish (at that time). I just wanted to get away from all the rules and seemingly relentless oppression. I wanted to be just me and have no one else and nothing else telling me what to do or how to act or where to go, blah blah blah. Anyway, I'd swam up near the reef enough times to see that there was a perfect little opening at the center of the cove, and just under the breaks of the waves. If I timed it right, I'd kick into the opening with the wave and shoot out the other side.

And so, I did. It was exhilarating! I shot out into the world of deep blue, literally. Nothing but deep blue. I felt like I was flying. I was finally free.

Just as I was twirling in the blue, through my slightly foggy goggles I saw him below me. He was BIG and he was majestic. He didn't seem to have a care in the world as he blissfully glided past me with one flap of his arms. His shell was enormous and incredibly unique, as it had a bite mark out of the bottom right hand side of it. It wasn't a fresh bite, it had scarred over by the time we'd found ourselves flying synchronized and mesmerized by each other. We locked eyes and I swear to you and little 8 pound, 6 ounce, baby Jesus that he smiled at me. I knew sea turtles could grow the size of an old Volkswagon bug depending on the species, but seeing it in real life is a whole other experience.

I'm not sure why the name came to me, but Bob was what I'd call him. I'd find myself sneaking off to the officer's beach on a weekly basis as often as I could, to go and swim with him. That certainly turned into a core memory for me and became something that I would be able to pull from when I needed a boost of serotonin in difficult times. Over the years I've painted multiple variations of Bob, all of which came from a special place in my heart from those sweet memories.

Below is a gallery of a few of the sea turtle paintings I've done over the years. I've been a bit obsessed with painting them. I like to believe that the sea turtle is a type of spirit animal of mine, or something like that. Some of these works are done in watercolors, and other in acrylic paints. Sea turtles are my happy place. :)

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