Spending countless hours talking about writing on this blog and not doing it, I’m driven to this: jumping in again. Diving (in my lame way I can’t really dive, but try to act like it) into the water. Like I’ve said before, swimming has always been a challenge for me. Despite growing up by a (gross) man-made “lake” (whose taste I will never get out of my mouth; once you swallow Candlewood Lake water you can relive it at any moment) and going to Cape Cod each summer for a week or two, being around water, I never fully trusted it. If I were a fan of footnotes, I’d have one about trusting myself linked here.)
My dog Grace is a big fan of water. She doesn’t really care for rain because it makes her blink a lot, but she likes jumping over puddles in a cute attempt to keep her little feet clean (or her tap shoes, if you live in my world). Which is thoughtful considering she spends 20 hours of day on my bed. Her first boat ride was last summer. We (insert phantom footnote here, explaining “we”) took Grace and her little brother slash boyfriend Levi on a ferry cruise in Hyannis harbor. For a summer that otherwise sucked worse than having teeth pulled with no painkillers, it was a small brightspot.
Since we don’t get to spend much time on boats, Grace has taken up the hobby Watching Water Go Down the Drain in the Tub. She couldn’t care less who is in the shower, or what else is happening in the room, but the moment she hears the water come on, no matter where she is in the house or what level of deep dog sleep she’s enjoying, she appears, almost immediately, at the doorway to the bathroom, seemingly transported by time travel. The look on her face makes me feel like I’m doing something right. That, despite the cold long winter where we do not get out of the house enough, her joy at standing tubside and watching the current swirl into the abyss is proof I’m some kind of good dog parent. It’s a combination of illusionary sights and echoing sounds that make her ears stand up, her head darting back and forth like watching a heated ping-pong tournament. It makes her happy, and that makes me happy.
Water can be so calming, so soothing. Floating in Onset bay with my nieces and nephews, standing at the edge of the pond at Tarrywile Park watching the dogs lose their minds in excitement, running in and out of the lily-pad speckled pool, the memory of rain steadily coming down on us in the August heat of Saratoga, listening as Allman Brothers performed so reliably. As a kid we played in the stream behind my house; depending on how rainy it had been, there was anything from barely any water among the rocks, to a rushing imitation of a river, which was wildly exciting…being eight years old. My friends and I returned to the stream time and time again, later as young teenagers to have secret discussions about Important Matters, using substitute terms for things that could not be spoken aloud. The privacy the sound of the water offered was later replaced by conversations held with boyfriends inside a car, dragging our feet to put off ending the night. (Insert phantom footnote here: No one can hear what’s discussed in a car, of course.)
Of course, water can also be our worst enemy, anywhere on the spectrum of mildly annoying, to causing death and destruction. From accidently running your wristwatch through the laundry to the pain and horror of floods, tsunamis— times when the very thing that keeps us alive can also kill us. My own personal nightmare reoccurs not on a scale of abovementioned calamities, but in a mental/physical/mess you up and other people can see sense: I despise getting my hair washed at the salon. I don’t just despise it, it makes me completely insane, like a mental patient lunatic who should probably be sedated, for the sake of the others nearby.
Now, I need to be clear. I don’t mind washing my OWN hair, thankyouverymuch. And I’ve never enjoyed the neck strain of the hair washing sink when getting my hair cut; they always say, “You comfortable? Water temp okay?” Yeah, yeah fine, just get this garbage over with. But sometime a couple years ago, something about me changed. Maybe I altered my state when I touched a faulty outlet in the 250-year-old house I used to live in, or some amount of hearing damaged caused by one too many Phish shows finally caught up with me, or maybe I’m just nerve-broken due to old age, but I completely spaz out feeling water go down my sides of my head.
Unfortunately, I seem to be the only person on the planet who experiences this. No support group exists for people who feel an outrageous and horrifically orgasmic (I know, I know, but not in a good way) sensation down each side of their spine every time the water whooooshes past their ears. Even thinking about this as I write makes me shudder in fear. And the scary/funny/weird/I’m feeling old part about this is that it didn’t use to happen. (Some could say it parallels my dentist-attending experience the last few years. As a child, nothing bothered me, doctors, dentists, irritating people, it was all fine. Now I can barely get my teeth cleaned without letting my hypersensitivity get the best of me.) My coping skills include: visualization techniques, imagining that what I’m feeling IS actually a good thing, hugging my arms around my torso in a sad attempt to squelch the urge to go into hysterics, and giggling. All the stylists at the salon I attend know about my…issue. They are kind and keep their judgments to themselves, or at least they wait until I leave to make fun of me. I must be an absolute hoot to imitate. A sharp-minded comedian would have a field day.
I’ll wait to divulge into metaphors of me swimming near docks for safety. Need to think on that a bit more, and I’ve already overwritten for one topic. And now I need to go recover. And drink some water.