Like a Fish

Splashing around in the pool, I giggled with glee! It was so infectious that my mother had to laugh, too. Being in the water and finding my way through it was pure joy.  Perhaps this little baby girl was part fish! I couldn’t yet crawl or walk, but I could swim with ease, so effortlessly through a body of water. I didn’t have words or sophisticated vocalizations, but boy, could I laugh when dancing around, suspended in water. My mother would look at me, delighted by my happiness. She had done a very good thing, introducing me to this experience. Water would become a medium for some of my best childhood experiences. Growing up in Phoenix, many homes had swimming pools. Many of my friends had outdoor swimming pools in their backyards. I would spend many hours swimming, splashing, and playing in pools, lakes, and oceans throughout my life. I learned how to body surf in the ocean, back dive off of the diving board, cannonball, pull stunts that were meant to be funny that usually resulted in falling into the pool, and having memorable moments with my friends. My mentor, who was a real estate mogul, had a swimming pool in one of her estates in California. One thing she liked about me was my enjoyment of swimming. She would refer to me as a fish, jokingly. And she always had a swimsuit for me to use, given to me as a gift. She would take me shopping for fancy dresses for the holidays, and make sure I had a fun swimsuit when I came to visit. My friends and I even had a carnival one year in upper Michigan when I was on vacation for a summer, and a swimming pool was the center of the activities. When I eventually moved to Minnesota, trips to the lakes were the highlight of my summers. Making sand castles, swimming out to the buoys, and floating on a raft were idyllic and never lasted long enough. At church camp every summer, we spent her breaks by the lake. There was a floating raft that we swam to and dove off of. I could have lived out there! When we went camping, one of the first things we did after setting up our tent was to check out the lake. I cannot remember one part of my life that is worth going back to that did not involve a reservoir of water. Oh, that reminds me about reservoirs. I swam in one of those in upper Michigan. Those were a special treat because it required a special outing. We would pack our vehicles and caravan with our family to a local reservoir. We would jump off of rocks and see how far we could swim out. It was absolutely amazing. Surrounded by nature, so free. The only other experienced that rivaled this was swimming in the man-made lakes in Arizona, which we had to travel through the mountains to access. Saguaro Lake is absolutely surreal to me and my memory. Now, at 35 years old, having been swimming since before my retrievable memory began, I cherish all the water in the world that I have this swum in. Water is life, and some of the best of life is lived in the water.

3 thoughts on “Like a Fish

  1. Wow, that really makes me want to learn how to swim — it sounds so liberating! I broke a LOT of bones in my youth, one after the other it seemed. And every time I had *any* kind of plans to learn to swim, I’d break again (usually a femur, loooong recovery). My mom’s Uncle Fred was a physical therapist since the 1940s (landed on Normandy as a combat medic in WW2), and had seen a lot of young men come back from devastating injuries by swimming. So needless to say, he was a HUGE proponent of getting me in the pool! I wish it had happened…

    I spent a few summers in Michigan, also, from age 7 to 12. Mostly I remember the wooded area near our house with the enormous grasshoppers & walking sticks, the Queen Anne’s Lace that grew everywhere, and milkweed seeds that would drift farther than I could observe. I still miss how clear the night sky was, too, crammed with all magnitude of stars.

    I took several scriptwriting classes in college, and one of the ideas I had brainstormed was rather out there, but maybe you’d find it interesting. It occurred to me that as we live and breathe, the very molecules of water that were once part of us, traveling through our bodies, were expelled constantly — along with all the other atoms we absorb and shed. And they find themselves swept up in air currents, carried by clouds or tides, and end up in countless other people through the centuries. So I imagined a tiny piece of each of those people’s identity, maybe even soul, becoming part of each water molecule, and exerting a nudge in the next host, who in turn leaves their imprint on that molecule of water, and so on. The more time that passes, the farther some bits of you will diffuse, but undoubtedly the majority will recycle within a certain radius. If you spend your lifetime in Japan, how many samurai will have lived in you for an hour, or a day? So the main character of my story was going to be somebody more sensitive to these “nudges” than the rest of us. Maybe it was supernatural, or just the consequence of a unique throw of the genetic dice. I hadn’t really developed a clear idea where I wanted to go with it, but almost 20 years later that germ for a story hasn’t left me… Maybe one of these days… 🙂

  2. Such a different experience from mine. I did eventually learn to swim at about age 12, but it never became my element. I get so cold quick in the water. I do occasionally go swimming…but it is not a strength of mine! 🙂

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