Saturday, August 6, 2011

Back in the Lake Again...

I'm not really a swimmer. I mean: I swam in the pool as a kid as a way to pass the lazy summer months away when I wasn't in school. I was an expert at fetching objects from the deep-diving end of any number of swimming pools: quarters, lost rings, plastic hair bobbles and let's not forget all the paraphernalia that ends up down there anyway.  I once found a silver (colored) ring at the deepest part of the Bower's Mansion pool in Washoe Valley, Nevada. I was nine and wore that ring for a year-- my prized possession. I think I even found a wad of dollar bills once, floating below the depths and me, squinting because I had no goggles.

What I mean to say is that I'm no swimmer. Or-- not a swimmer like those kids who join teams and learn strokes and all of that. I learned to swim the way we learned to walk: as a method of transportation, to take me from water's surface to water's depths.

So for me to be swimming now is really quite amazing. Add this to my history of disordered eating and body image issues and well: any sport that would require minimal apparel and wetness, well, forget it.

Only: I want to be an athlete. And swimming seems to help the various lower-leg issues that creep up from so much running. I completed (and won my age group) in a triathlon last summer; but since I'd shelved the wetsuit and the swimming. I worried, coming back, if I would remember how to do this odd thing I'd taught myself to do in adulthood: move through the water, not under it.

Tahoe: the early evening westward wind. The azure-blue chop. And me, wetsuited, suited up to swim. And in I go. I panicked twice, feeling as though my lungs refused to take in oxygen. But then, I settled into a cadence of 3-3-3-look up... and I swam a mile. A MILE! Me, the non-swimmer.

The light is fading now; my hair still wet. I've won no world record and yet-- I did something I didn't think I could do; I swam to the farthest dock you can see and back.  The sky is azure turned crimson fading to violet-- a farewell to the day and my small efforts in it.  A breath, a motion: I move through space and time. Yet, I'm grateful for each step, each stroke, each second. Grateful for my life. My beautiful life made so lovely by the people in it.

As I swam, I thought of all my friends who read my writing; my boyfriend, Steve, who motored by me in a dingy to make sure no one ran me over; my coach, Carl, who still coaches me and believes I will run a fast marathon one day; to my parents I carry in my soul, always telling me I can, I can.

And maybe I can. But as I watch the twilight fade to night, I feel so privileged to try.


Carola Conces said...

The way you use punctuation in this piece is really interesting and effective.

R said...

Thanks, Carola! I wonder if that's me still feeling the current of the lake (I wrote this immediately after I got out of the water.) :)