choosing to float

i don’t swim (it’s a stereotype. i know).

i mean, i can. if you throw me in the water i can paddle and i can do a sort of an approximation of different swimming-strokes, but i can’t swim laps. after a lap i feel like i’m dying, gasping for air, my lungs burning. i never learnt to breathe… well, i never learnt the breathing technique for swimming laps, that is. the irony is that most of the people i love, are fish when it comes to water. not me. i am a land creature. much as i love liquid, when i’m in it, i’m not in my element.

ironically, when i was in my 20’s, i’d regularly go for flotation sessions. you climb into a tank filled with salt-water, close the trap-door behind you, partially immerse yourself in the water and just float in absolute, blind-as-a-bat darkness. it’s a strange sensation, with the water in your ears, listening to your own breathing. it’s also a bit of a sensory-deprivation chamber, so you release your weight to the water and it’s you and your mind. nowhere to go, nothing to do, but just let go; a kind of meditation. and it’s perfectly safe (unless you’re a claustrophobe) because the water is barely deep enough to cover you. it’s just the salt content that keeps you afloat, like your own microcosmic red sea. so it’s okay – really just like lying in a big bath.

it’s rare, though, that i find myself in a pool in which one can actually swim, one that’s long enough and deep enough for any real kind of exertion. and no, you won’t find me going near the pool at the gym – me, in a swimsuit infront of a gym full of body-conscious people? hell, no! this weekend, however, there was the most beautiful pool at melody hills, with a natural filtration system and it was bliss to jump in the water after a sweaty dance session.

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however, after i dove in and tried to touch the bottom, i realized that i was in way too deep for that. and i almost panicked, gasping for air, furiously doggy-paddling till i found my breast-stroke and made my way to the other end of the pool. once i’d managed to calm myself down, i did a few laps, resting at each end in-between and then i floated on my back looking at the trees and the sky overhead. but i realized i still hadn’t let go, there was still the fear of getting water in my lungs, in my nose – “she wasn’t waving, but drowning…” . and i had to allow myself to relax into the sensation and know that i was safe.

it made me think of something i saw on social media just recently – if you find yourself in quicksand, it said to slowly draw your legs up, till you could float on your back. good to know. if i ever find myself in quick-sand. 🙂 but it made me realize that no matter how deep the water or how rough, i could always float, yes, i might swallow some, but if i allow myself, i can simply let go, i can breathe, and i can choose to float.

i think there’s a lesson there. it’s something worth keeping in mind.

even on land.

word…

Saturday 22 March, 3:35am

Words.

Words have always been my friends. Under the anonymous, invisible cloak of night, when the monsters crawl from the corners, from under the bed, from the scary depths of my being, I have found my safety in words. Words have been my steadfast companions. Sometimes truncated and parsed. Sometimes poetic. But always steadfast. Always at my side – always at hand. Not always rolling from my tongue, but scrolling from my pen to the page, always.
Words: My reliable, sometimes relentless, companions.
And yet. For the last year or so, they seem to have deserted me. Seem to have slunk away to skulk in some corner, sulking. Like a self-imposed time-out. I guess a part of me has felt abandoned, whereas another part has let it be. “If you love something, set it free”. But I’ve realized that I miss my erstwhile companions. After a lifetime of seemingly inextricable entanglement, I feel quite lost without. I’m hoping that they’ve chosen to go walkabout, but only on a long leash, or are boats, bobbing merely beyond the harbour, ready on the right tide, to come floating back to my bay. But if they’re birds, flown up into the blue, I’m hoping, I really am, that they’ll be back to nestle in the tangled trees of my brain, and that they’ll once more sing their songs to me.
Please. Please come back my sirens (I am waiting here in this dark night with the black dog at my side).
Again seduce me. 

Rude awakening – life is but a dream

5:30 yesterday morning my alarm goes off. Reluctant to relinquish the warmth I’ve cultivated in my bed all night, I hit the snooze button. As I’m luxuriating in the last moments before I’m ejected into the freezing waters of the day, I hear “something”. Probably one of the dogs in the kitchen, I think. A few moments later, I hear another noise, right as I realize that both dogs are in their beds in their respective corners of the room. Before I even get a chance to process this realization, I hear something else and one of the dogs starts up with a peculiar bark.
I desperately try to yank the bf from the depths of his dreams into what seems to be turning into a nightmare. I fly out of bed and as I pass the study, I see the lamp which is below the window on the stoop, teetering drunkenly as I hear someone moving stealthily outside. I race to the kitchen window and my heart crashes to the screeted floor and seems to impale my feet there in the process. There is a man in a blue windbreaker standing with his back towards me, keeping watch across my swimming pool.

As I stand there, a momentary imitation of Lot’s wife, he turns his head and we look straight at each other. The spell breaks and I bolt to the keypad to sound the alarm. Except I don’t remember how. Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph! I beseech deities I do not believe in before I recall the location of the portable panic button. I press the red button and the shrill siren shrieks through the predawn dark, freaking out the dogs, especially the SPCA special who is leery of loud noises and cowers from thunder and alarms. Alarms like this one tearing the fragile silence. The security company calls and says someone is on their way. By now the bf is racing around in his t-shirt, pants-less, wielding a huge sword he picked up from a thrift shop on a whim.

He yells out the door and we turn off all the lights so we aren’t targets for whoever is out there in the dark. We let the dogs out to investigate, but it seems the intruders have taken off. 9 minutes later I call CHUBB again, to see where the armed response is. It is between 15 and 20 minutes from the time i sent the first SOS, before they finally show up. 15 to 20 minutes that might as well have been eternity – anything could have happened in that eon of apprehension and insecurity. The armed guard walks the property and ascertains that there’s no longer anyone who shouldn’t be there. In the meantime time is doing its peculiar trick of racing by while it stands still, contracting and expanding in an inimitable tango. I have to be at work by 7, so I have to jump in the shower and get a move on. It’s only when I walk into the make-up room at the studio, that the adrenalin deserts me and I shakily reach for the rescue remedy.

Later when I get back home, I realize they’ve stolen my Saucony and Feivue sneakers through the open window of the storage room, but it seems that that’s all that’s missing. The afternoon is taken up by men installing additional security beams and movement sensitive lights – something which I didn’t exactly budget on after the splurge that was AfrikaBurn last month. This weekend we’ll put up additional electric fencing.

Despite the added security measures, I still find myself lying awake for a large part of the night, listening for phantom sounds. The illusion of safety and security has once again been shattered. At least this time I responded to the noise before whoever it was had the opportunity to surprise me in my bed. It’s taken so long to rebuild even a semblance of that feeling of immunity we all need to navigate our days and nights. The feeling that “it won’t happen to me”. Now I have to start all over. I realize that this time I’m not so much afraid. I’m angry. I’m unbelievably pissed off that I have to live with all these security measures, alarms, locks, electric fencing. I long for those 12 yrs in Topanga when I left my keys in the car and my house was never locked.
And yet I’m also grateful. We’ve gotten incredibly comfortable and lax the last while, leaving the security gates unlocked, taken showers with the back door wide open. This is the best possible outcome – no-one was hurt. I wasn’t wearing those sneakers anyway, and this has been the wake-up call to reinforce our security.

Truth is though, I would so much rather have stayed asleep and lulled in the reverie of a life lived without fear and electric fences, a life where a man in a blue windbreaker doesn’t jolt me back to another night that did not end quite as well as this one. And I’d rather live a life where that dream IS the reality.