I’ve just been outbluffed. I sat back a minute. I really do wonder about this. My thoughts are uncertain, stopped. I don’t know if I have a reaction beyond “oh”. Frivolity has been whisked off like a cloth revealing a concept beautiful somehow in a darker way than I care to look at. Another step into my life being invisible. How is it that people talk about these things? There’s an epiphany and they pick up the phone. I only know it because I’ve been on the other end. Myself, I am left floundering. I suspect that I haven’t anyone to talk to in the right way. The water’s over my head and looking up to where the air meets the surface doesn’t help. No one has any clue as to what I want to talk about. I need names to be real, not only labels for the other person to file to the appropriate story. The people around me aren’t involved. Part of me hates being young. There’s not enough experience in my head, not enough learned. I need to build still. I need to Know.
Once when I was little my family stayed briefly with a pastor at Shawnigan Lake. He was a quiet old man who never walked with a wooden stick. When my parents had a gig in town, he taught me chess. During the day, he took care of a challenged boy sometimes, when parents were at work. It was one of the very rare occasions I ever met anyone around my own height so I was quite taken with the thought of spending time with him. I suppose he must have been twelve. We were out on the old wooden dock one middle of summer afternoon. The heat shimmering off the water, and looking around the lake, there are almost only dark green trees. Tall conifers with the occasional boat tied to them. We were on the end, leaning over as far as we dared, trying to see the bottom of the lake against the glare. Logic told us the sun would let us see the whiskery fish at the bottom that the fisherman would sometimes pull up. Suddenly, laughing, he pushed me and I went in. My corduroys greedily took the water and doubled my weight. Too young to ever be taught how to swim, I was unsteady, I was thrashing. I came up under the dock. And again. I could hear the hollow footsteps of the boy running away as I fought. Finally, I let myself drift to the bottom, where the sun lit the water brightly all around me. One of the whiskery fish swam past and I blinked, reaching for it. With my feet touching the silty mud bottom of the lake, I felt no panic at all. After all, having my bathingsuit on under my clothing made being in the lake alright. That’s what you wear when you’re getting wet. Letting go of my very last breath of air, I leaned peacefully backwards into the water to watch the bubbles gleam their way to break the surface. A white haired pixie looking up through water about to die. No one came running. No one ever saw. Now too many years of working with visuals say I would put a girl singing with a guitar over such an image. Then, it was the sound of water quietly against the shore and the deeper sucking sounds of the dock above me. My own moment and I saved myself by accepting everything. I would follow the bubbles. Struggling suddenly I leaped off the bottom and after the silver, almost leaving my shoes in the muck. When my hand hit the last slippery rung of the ladder I needed air so badly that my eyes had shut down. I tore myself blind out of the water. So desperate to breath that with my first inhalation came a pint of water. Everything burned. Alone on the dock wretchedly coughing, I decided I could stand before I could. I fell, smashing myself into the dock. When I could walk, I trailed water all the way up the shore to the cabin, where I found my mother changing the diaper of my brother on the hood. Looking up, I watched her heart stop. When I saw that she almost fell, that’s when I broke. Cried then, but not before. I remember helpless for perhaps the first time in my life because I couldn’t communicate to her. I felt useless to express how I felt about this moment and everything involved because she was not there.
I get that a lot these days.