I feel like I’ve come out of a long, dark tunnel. I’m not referring only to the many days in electronic darkness, but that of my last three decades.
I will swim in still* (fresh) water after my laundry is done — for the second time in 30 years. My last still water swim prior to a dip in a pool two weeks ago was in my parents’ pool in Pearland, Texas. They moved out in the mid 90s but my pool rights were revoked in ‘91 (by emotional pressure vs verbal demand).
I began to swim again in 2016 but only in the gulf and with a full-body swimsuit. Never alone. Usually, in fact, I swam while surf fishing with the man I was married to at the time. We rarely went into the surf just to swim.
I don’t swim in much less now, capris and long sleeves because — old. Regardless of one man’s overly kind opinion, this old frame is just not bikini-worthy.
This lake is clear and cool but not cold and unlike the Kentucky lake of last week, not stagnant and covered in cottonwood snow. I’m anxious to submerge myself in it and feel that joy again. At the pool I dipped in, littles were everywhere. Maybe a lake isn’t much healthier, but I know what toddlers do in pools.
I stepped onto wet, broken slate and other stones that serve as the “beach” at this park. The rocks, largely “chips” of stone, really, aren’t sharp but nor are they sand smooth. There’s something comforting about that; perhaps it’s the knowledge that crabs and stingrays won’t be burrowed into those hard slivers and chunks of stone.
As a recent boat wake subsided, I waded out carefully until I was thigh deep. I checked my sunglasses** to make sure the strap was snug, and dove under.
I came up damn near sobbing with joy.
The water was cool but not cold, like April coastal beach temps, and soft as silk. It slipped around me without seaweed or sand or other slithery bits. I began a breast stroke out to the buoy that demarcated the swimming area for swimmers and boaters alike. I found the gentle slope just at my height, turned and did a clumsy, half-remembered back-stroke (college swim class) to one side of the buoy, turned and did side strokes, first right (awful) then left (much better). Finally I simply flipped on my back and floated a while; looking up into deep blue summer sky with scattered cumulus clouds and a soft breeze chilling my exposed parts.
After years of not being able to float like my mom, I’ve found in recent years that I can. I always assumed it was because of the salt water at the coast. Nah. I’m just fluffy. Higher body fat percentage makes for good floating. HA!
I repeated the above twice, floating in between to catch my breath. Then decided I should get back to Sam.
In my childhood, Momma could never get me out of the pool. I had sunburns that made me sick and miserable but wanted to be back in the water the next day. As soon as I got back to Blanche, I was wishing I’d stayed in the water.
To be honest, it wasn’t just the obligation of Sam that brought me home. The lingering discomfort with “showing” my body in public, even though almost no skin was visible, just my generous curves, was the greater drive that pulled me out of the water. A young couple camping at the top of the hill, certainly not the least bit interested in an old woman doing laps, kept getting in my head without so much as being within earshot.
Obviously, I have yet another “wound” to sort out and have known that since I left. I am female and have curves. It isn’t up to me to police what men (or anyone for that matter) see or find offensive. It is only up to me to be comfortable in my skin. I have changed my style of dress somewhat since leaving him, but I still don’t show cleavage or wear pants or dresses that fall above my knees. I have twice worn a bikini top with my capris (no long-sleeved rash guard) and felt extremely uncomfortable, but that was more because I am fluffy than because I was showing cleavage.
Still, while I am definitely too old for a bikini, I would love to move from being two steps shy of a burqini. My health allows for that now and my sanity demands it. The very fact that I am even considering this, says I have progressed significantly out of that dark tunnel mentioned above.
*the lake has waves, of course, but compared to a gulf or ocean shoreline, it is “still.”
**I need sun/swim goggles.