Monday, September 27, 2010

Keep Swimming

I learned how to swim at the Y in Davenport, Iowa when I was 6 I think.  I remember roll call.  They always called out "Jean" because that was my name and when she signed me up, my mother must have been having one  of her moments when she was rethinking calling me Silver.  No one ever called me Jean, so it never registered when they'd call it to me during roll.  There was always this "Jean? ... ...  Jean?" Followed by a long pause when everyone would look at me and I would briefly land back on the planet from whatever daydreamy place I'd been.  I'd snap-to with, "Oh!  Me!  That's me!  I'm here!"  The unspoken "duh" hung heavily in the air. 

But anyway, at the very end of the weeks of swim class they tested us to see if we could swim in the deep end.  I remember hanging on to the edge of the pool; the instructor was just a few feet away.  Just out of reach.  She called for me to swim to her.  no problem.  paddle paddle.  Then she backed up.  wha?  paddlepaddle.  She backed up some more.  not fair!  quit moving.  paddlepaddlepaddle!  She was right past my fingertips.  And I was not pleased.  She stayed *just* that distance away until I got all the way to the other side of the deep end.  And she was all, "You did it!  Great job!"  And I was not the most proud beaming six year old girl you ever saw.  I just remember thinking, "So what if I did it?  You tricked me."

And it's been like that ever since.

That All By Myself feeling is tempered with seething surges of Look, You.  This was not supposed to be that difficult.  Or maybe it was supposed to be but good grief you should have told me that at the beginning because I didn't know I was going to have to open up the reserve tanks here and yeah, I got 'em and stuff but I would have appreciated a heads up of some kind.  So, yay me or whatever but also...fuck you.

That's what life is, isn't it?  Or parts of it anyway?

A neverending series of swim tests where just when you think you're THERE you still have a good distance to go.  And you can stop if you want but you'll only be treading water because it's too deep to stand where you are.  And you're still going to have to get there anyway.  And treading water with a bad attitude because you're mad you're not there yet will only wear you out and make everything take three times as long.  So you should just put your face in the water and move. 

Or rather, I should.  paddlepaddlepaddle

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