July 23, 2008

floating. above myself.

one of my fondest memories involves a trip to the keys with a now lost-to-me old friend.
i was on the cusp of womanhood and flirting with the idea of it, but still giggling and girlish.
i remember the trip being a whirlwind of tastes of freedom-- my friend and i had our own room, but were accompanied by my mother and frank who were down the hall. we chased boys we met, but came home before curfew. we sipped just a taste of champagne in a mimosa on a sailboat, under the watchful eye of my mother.
it was a great trip of discovery and tiptoeing along the lines.

but what i remember most is one feeling--

i still try to conjure the feeling in bed some nights, just after i close my eyes.

i went snorkeling for the first time while in key west, off a sailboat in the calm, cerulean Gulf. the rush of excitement of trying something new and seeing this bustling unknown world of reefs and fish more colorful than a rainbow reflected in a puddle of gasoline and the sun on my back and that feeling of absolute weightlessness and wonder was all. so. much. to take in.
i floated silently above it all.

i don't think i've ever had that taste of nothing but me, my thirsty mind, visions breathtakingly beautiful and unseen, and the buoyant, feathery feel of flying all in one big quenching gulp ever again.

i've snorkeled only once since that trip a decade ago, and it was the opposite experience. it was a state of panic. i was in New Zealand with a study abroad program and i was about to finally realize my dream of swimming with wild dolphins. these aren't the tame-pet-everyday-fed-from-a-can dolphins you find doing flips on command in Florida; these were wild-eyed-swim-faster-in-a-pod-next-to-monstrous-sperm-whales dolphins.
we put on wet suits, even our heads and feet were covered in the rubbery black. we boarded a boat and motored along until we spotted three different groups of dolphins and jumped in. first, the ice cold water of the pacific ocean shocked my body. i choked. we were above a continental shelf off Kaikoura where warm currents meet cold, which meant the area was rich with sea life and the bottom of the ocean was much much deeper than i trusted. i gasped for air, opened my eyes and was surrounded by a huge pack of dolphins. their beady eyes in a panic. they brushed up against me on each side. i came up to the surface to see the boat was much further away than i expected. i was numb, overwhelmed, incredibly alive.
i wasn't floating. i was racing.

my key west state of calm and floating i'd experienced before had flipped.

yesterday, on a feature hunt, i wandered to a pool near my home that i didn't know existed. it's a public pool that charges 50 cents for entry and is 2 feet deep in the shallow end and 3 feet deep in the deep end. yet, it's very large. basically a giant vacant wading pond. odd.
only one boy was in the pool and the lifeguard told me he's generally the only "swimmer" day after day.
so i sat and watched joshua float and spin in the shallow pool and immediately thought of how nice it would be to float there for a day.
...or three.

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