I learned how to swim from my dad. We'd spend days at the beach, or at our cottage just splashing around the shallow water, until we could brave it belly deep, or even on really daring days stand there neck deep waiting for him to hold us up and practice kicking an paddling (I was four feet tall at best, neck deep was up to Dad's bellybutton).
Then I took winter swim lessons in The South (whether to keep my brothers an I occupied, or because patience teaching us had waned, who knows) and in the summer would take long weekend vacations at the beaches on the ocean. There was a little more pull in that water, but our courage had developed. There was no need for 'practice' anymore.
When we lived in New England we'd swim in the lake, where the only waves came from our slpashing. My best friend had an in-ground pool (SO COOL), and that's where I learned to dive. We started by crouching on the edge, angling our selves, hands and toes pointed, and gently rocking forward until we slipped in like seals. Eventually I made it to the diving board.
I think it's safe to sayI am comfortable in the water, and have some skill when it comes to swimming. I should also say that I have no fear of water, or anything water related.
And yet, as I swam in the middle of the lake yesterday evening, when there was no one else in the water as far as I could see, I felt a sense of panic. I thought of all the possible things that could happen to me in such a huge body of water; from a jaws attack to a submarine scooping me up. I could drown, and no one would be able to save me because I was so far away from the shore. I could be pulled under by the current (even though there wasnt one), or worse I could unknowningly step into a sink hole (do those even exist in the bottom of a lake in Ontario?). What if a jellyfish stung me and I had an allergic reaction? Or an octopus pulled me under? Each scenario more unlikely than the last, I know.
The feeling lasted until I was drying myself off, safe on the sand again. I can't think of any reason why I would feel like that though, and as I sat there watching as people got in the water (the twelve year old girls prancing in showing off, in triangle bikinis, what puberty has yet to give them) I was fine with the lake once again.
this summer has been the summer of jane austen. (amognst other things).
until this summer though i hated austen. REALLY hated her. because all i could see in her stories were women's sad desperate needs to get married and be in relationships, and their strange desire for fairytale endings. (kitty and lydia bennet anyone?) ive always been so cynical about that, and couldnt understand why anyone would remotely want that. too much commitment, so tied down, unnecessary responsibility. YUCK.
i am certainly no less cynical now, but i do have a new perspective that gives me a greater appreciation for her novels. she writes about how people interact with each other in a realistic way. all of the awkwardness and uncertainty is there. that little dance we all do; do i like you, do you like me, what is going on, what do i say, how do i say it, etc. ... its allllll there in minute detail. as one friend would say theres "sexual tension" and thats what makes it interesting.
people are unpredictable (like in persuasion when hayter and henrietta get in engaged - who saw that coming?!) and austen certainly likes to remind us of that. it comforts me. reminds me that there is no chance in hell of me figuring someone's intentions out (unless they spell it out, but really who does that?) and if its been like that since austen's day and time, i MUST not be missing anything...
i find that theres a new version of the chick flick hitting the big screen lately. movies like "the ugly truth" and "hes just not into you". they glory in being able to present 'shocking' information about the male/female dynamic, and while i dont think the producers ever expected someone to sit there while watching them and ask, "is this what people really think?", i most definitely did do just that.
the movies were funny (sort of) and eye opening (but not really) and what they really had in common were the female lead roles. in both films the women were presented with having a problem with men, that could only be solved with earth shattering insight from men themselves. and that is what frustrates me most.
the movies dont show equal confusion or indecision for men AND women, its the women who are at a disadvantage, as if we're lacking some crucial information to enable us to "score big" with guys. puh-leeeze. i think jane austen has it right, atleast in her plots EVERYONE is EQUALLY confused. because thats, realitically, the way it is. one person does not have more answers than another, there is not a secret to hooking up, and there definitely is not a guru out there who will hold your hand until you realize you faults and failings and meet prince charming!
so what really ends up being shocking about these movies is there complete detachment with the real world. and here i was thinking hollywood was "with it".