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Swimming: December 2005

It makes me a little sad to watch you swim. Three short months ago you were floundering around in the pool: human in water, kindred spirit to fish out of water. Your long arms would reach out to form odd angles before falling as heavy thuds into the water. You would forget to breathe. It didn’t dawn on you to use your feet to stay afloat. Swimming was a strange series of stroke, sink, gasp, and stroke again. It was easy to pick you out in a crowded pool–you were the kid who looked like he was going to drown.

Amazingly, you have managed to put together all the steps of this complicated dance in water. Now, instead of skittering to the play area like a crane newly hatched, you stride confidently to the lap pool. You, in your blue swim cap that covers your beloved but chlorine damaged hair. You, with your 60’s inspired tie-dyed goggles strapped snuggly into place. You, in your faded swim trunks that bear the proof of your devotion to your new craft. You have adopted all these swimmerly ways. All those mannerisms of your kind. You adjust your cap and goggles between laps. You blow water from your nose and clear your ears by tilting you head. More steps in the now familiar dance, you seem to know just what to do, just how to enact these rituals of swimming.

In this crowded pool of children splashing and laughing–you alone are intent on swimming UPSTREAM in the lazy river. Perfecting your strokes. Challenging your legs to kick harder. Challenging yourself to be the swimmer you believe yourself to be. And because of this, I can always find you in the crowded pool. You are that solitary blue cap bobbing in and out of the water on a mission to swim against the current. You no longer stand out as a fish out of water but shine in your graceful way of belonging to this water. You are part of it, but distinct even in your belonging.

And me? You can find me where I’ve always been. Watching you learn to swim from behind the thick pane of glass of the viewing room. Smiling and waving when you happen to glance my way. Watching you grow up. Thankful that I can still see the you, you believe yourself to be.

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