Project Wave

After spending a delightful 24 hours on Lopez Island (I am an uber-efficient summer vacationer – just get it done. Why linger?), I decided to try to bring the sweet Lopez tradition of waving here to Lake M.

On Lopez, just about every single person you pass waves to you. It’s usually the two-hands-on-wheel-just-lift-the-peace-fingers wave, but there’s the occasional lift-the-right-hand-fully-off-the-wheel gesture. It’s hard to tell if the few people who don’t wave are locals, weary of tourists who come to wave at them, or if they’re tourists who don’t know the custom.

At any rate, I guess Lopezites feel particularly connected to one another because they live on an island, and it’s more obvious to them than it is to the rest of us that there are a finite number of people to encounter, and those people should be good to one another, because life is better that way.

Living on the outskirts of a lake is the inverse of an island, right? The opposite of land surrounded by water would be water surrounded by land, true? So it seems pretty reasonable that we could get serious about waving to one another here.

I defined a wave zone that starts at the round barn, includes the hill, and goes around the lake. (I would like to emphasize that this includes the sketchy hill where Joey lives.)

I’ve waved to everyone I’ve passed within this zone since Saturday, using the peace fingers wave, which I think is pleasant, but not creepily over-enthusiastic. It’s a wave that says, “I’m cool, and you are too.”

I was pretty sure it would take a while to catch on, and wasn’t too discouraged that I haven’t gotten a return wave yet, until this:

I was on my evening swim, going across the lake, and was just about as far from land in any direction as could be, when I noticed two other adults also swimming in the middle of the lake. This is pretty unusual, (I was going to add, “because it never happens”, but I think you people understand the meaning of the word unusual. Yes, I think you do.)

I said hello, which seemed like the thing to say. And the man said to the woman, “Look, honey! It’s another person!” Which seemed like an odd thing to say. As if it weren’t just another person, but a deaf person, being that I was about 6 feet away. (Or, I should say, six knots away. I know! Knots are speed, not distance. But feet seems like such a terrestrial measure.)

The woman, who was wearing a full wetsuit with sleeves and even a hat, just kept talking. They were doing that breaststroke kind of casual floating/swimming thing, which I don’t think that warrants getting all suited up. Especially because the water is currently 76 degrees. Did I mention the hat?
So she’s chatting, and I’m saying hello, and she’s ignoring the hello, but he finally just points to me,  just a few feet away, and says, again, “Look, honey! A person!”

So she says, "hmm", and goes back to her topic, which seemed to be some sort of a discussion of chores list. Much like the hat, a chore list is not something you should take swimming.

By now I find myself strangely irritated, because it just didn’t bode well for Project Wave if people don’t even say hello when we’re basically the only people and we’re out to sea. There’s not even an island.  We are the island.  Or her hat is the island, and due to it’s large size, particles like me are beginning to swarm around it. I swim right up to her and say, “Hi there. Nice hat!” And she says "thanks" offhandedly, and keeps swimming. I know. I know what you’re thinking. I was thinking that too.

The hat? It was just a big floppy brim, without the hat part. Like, her head would be the donut hole, and the hat would be the donut itself.

I’ll keep waving for now.


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