Thursday, August 13, 2009

bones are sinking like stones

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.

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