I Come From The Water

Original Post Date August 14, 2013 at 01:32 PM

Von finds the answers to her editing problems underwater. Dive in!

swimmingThe story goes, my siblings and I learned how to swim by being tossed in the deep end of the pool, and the goal was to reach the awaiting parent on the opposite end before sinking. The story goes, we each were initiated while still in diapers. I can only assume this strategy was deployed during a time when we wouldn’t retain any trauma. Thus, I don’t concretely know when I started swimming, I just know I’m a natural swimmer.

When my family was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas during the early 80s, the parents would entertain us three hooligans by visiting the Thomas Pool or the Blue Pool quite regularly. On one visit, my father did something so amazing, it blew my five year old mind. He plunged into the deep end of the pool, and he sat at the bottom, cool and collective, sending up a bubble on occasion to my perplexed face hanging over the side. He seemed to be down there for hours. He’d surface, just as cool and collective, as if he was breathing underwater the entire time. I had it in my head to learn how to do that.

A few pool visits in, and I figured out how to manage my air intake so I can manage the pressure against my body and keep myself from floating. When the lifeguards would blow the whistle to clear the pool for break, I used it as a signal to submerge and sit on the bottom of the deep end. I thought it was hilarious when the duped lifeguard violently blew his whistle from his comfortable post at the sight of me popping up. The other kids found this spectacle entertaining, and encouraged me to keep doing it. Of course, the lifeguards caught on and my mother, needing to be spared any further embarrassment, made me stop messing with them.

The interesting thing was, on the rare occasion a lifeguard did see me underwater, he or she never came in for me. So it became affixed temporally that underwater is a safe zone, a place where I can separate from someone annoying or something bothersome. During my graduate years at Penn State University, I regularly visited the campus natatorium with fellow swimmers from my department, and, as I carved out lap after lap in that NCAA pool, I was able to clear out bottlenecks related to my research, revisit issues with my thesis, or curse the name of certain professors giving me a hard time.

Last week, while reviewing my notes, I realized a certain sub-character was making herself more relevant. I had a direction for her, but she seemed to want another trajectory. It halted all my activity. I looked at my bikini hanging on my bathroom door, and knew I had to take it to the water. It took a few rounds to deconstruct and reconstruct the storyline, scenario by scenario, but once I finally broke the surface, it was figured out.


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