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I am, I am, I am
(Allow me to preface this entry by saying it sucks. I write best about pain and darkness and The Crazy and insecurities and bitterness. I don't know what allowed me to tap into that part of myself better than the happy, lovely side, but this is my attempt at normalcy. And normalcy is boring.)

 I don't know when I learned how to swim. I was 2 or 3, that point of childhood beyond our memories save for rare circumstances. I, for one, don't remember much beneath 5 — and I don't think I was "myself" until I was 17 at least.
But the point is I have known how to swim my entire life.
I am not a good swimmer. I am ungraceful, clunky, not at all like a fish (except maybe one on land). I would love to say I slice through the water like a hot knife through room temperature butter. But I don't. I struggle against it, feeling it bear on me.
I would love to say I love swimming, that I feel whole or complete or strangely connected to something greater in the pool.
But honestly, I feel intimidated. I am afraid of swallowing the chlorinated water, which is ironic (in the Alanis Morrisette way, i.e. not really ironic, but I couldn't find a better word.) I started swimming because I wanted to exercise and lose weight and be healthier than isolating myself on my bed every moment I wasn't at work. But it worked its way into my brain that excercise was a good way to deter cancer. But what if the tiny amount I probably ingest each time eventually GIVES me cancer? What if chlorine is actually a powerful carcinogen? (The correct answer here is way more swimmers, amateur/professional, would have cancer, but that's way too rational.) But every other day, I do it. I put on my suit and head to the Y and force myself in the sometimes-too-cold pool and swim up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down.

Things I love about swimming:
--You feel weightless. For Mad Men fans, this will sound familiar, and it should — Don's venture into the water in an attempt to get his life back on track inspired mine. You feel absolutely weightless for an hour.
--You feel alone. It's just me in the water: no crazy thoughts, no boyfriend, no co-workers. I am alone. Isolated. Unjudged. (This is probably not true as well.) I try not to think about anyone watching me, and honestly, no one is. Maybe the guy who swims for like 2 hours every Friday rolls onto his side and peeks into my lane, just like I do, feeling the adrenaline of competition begging to be set free, but it's unlikely that his acknowledgement of me goes beyond that. If this were a movie or a porno, I'd be 30 pounds lighter and single and the lifeguard would fall in love with me, watching me swim effortlessly and exuberantly in the water for months, and one day he would get the courage to ask me to dinner, and we'd have a tumultuous relationship until a moment of happiness and then the credits would roll. But this isn't a movie, and it's not even what I want. What I want is an hour's break from the world, when I can just be me. Goof off, talk myself out of serious laps, sink down to the floor and dart across the pool mostly underwater. I don't think about Creighton or work or what book reviews I have yet to read. I don't think about my weight or the state of the universe. I just move.
--You can feel your body, your muscles, move. One of the most awe-inspiring thing about athletes is their acutely aware of their bodies. They know exactly where to put their feet and flick their wrists to make that free throw (most of the time). Their bodies/muscles and their brains communicate on another level, man. But in the water, when I pump my legs to get a good pushoff from the wall, I feel it. I know, a little, what my legs look like, how they should feel. I think this is called form. My form, certainly, isn't excellent. But I know where my arms have to swoop over my head for a good stroke, and I try to put them there, time after time after time, stroke after stroke after stroke. Rhythm. This is what always bothered me about running — I have shitty form. And I probably do swimming, too, but at least I can feel it take shape.
--It saves me from being bored.

Up next: book talk


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