Swimming in the Rain
Still being a Badass
Dropping us off for swim practice as a kid, my mother would always say to us “Don’t get wet!”
She would make double sure to say this when it was raining. Because,…Moms.
At first, we thought it was pretty funny, kinda clever in a ‘Mom” way. After a while, we didn’t, and the joke got old that we rolled our eyes whenever she said it. Regardless, I still say it to myself when it is raining and I decide to swim.
Hitting the pool today, I try not to self-talk (‘Pick it up, C’mon! Faster. Pick it up.”) and just feel the rhythm of life as my limbs pull and release the water. I am struck by the metaphor my mother unerringly gave me. Sliding through easy strokes and torso twists while kicking in the two-beat kick of the power swimmer I have always been, I think about how my life led to me Swimming in the Rain
For the past year, I have been Cleaning Out, Getting Ready and Becoming. I have written about having to Be Brave while missing my dead twin, this year over all other years. I have gotten rid of weight (84 lbs), a job (Bro Culture is alive in the Silicon Valley) Stuff (still. always. continually), People (some by accident), and lots and lots of Fear. Lots. And lots, of Fear.
I have gained a roommate (The Boy I Live With), a job that has some interesting challenges, habits that are good for me rather than bad (skin care, writing, water all day every day), a new apartment with a patio, and a way to finally talk about my twin. Along with this, I have found the knowledge of how to put on eyeliner (anyone else struggle with this?), how many calories I should be burning in an hour, that it is okay to be a little bit vain (thanks to the Boy I Live With) and that taking care of myself is not negotiable anymore.
While not easy, the sun was out while all this happened. My stroke was steady, even and consistent. My muscles hurt, but I was able to stroke confidently to the other side. I list off seemingly small things, they are symbols of who I denied myself to be, all in the name of protection. they are no longer things I am willing to trade away, and I knew where I was going. My Badass was returning,
Until. I gave away some things I should not have. My heart to one who did not want it, my time and friendship to one who did not appreciate it, and lastly my certainty that I am on the right path to one whose path is wobbly. All the same person. I also gave him responsibility for my emotions sometimes. This is when it began raining.
But, I was still swimming, because I had not given him me. The secret part of me that breathes in a rhythm he doesn’t know, who knows how to speed up and pull back and just when the other person thinks the race is won, takes the lead. I was still there and swimming better than he ever would or could. Even though I want him to swim beside me, he can’t.
When you swim in the rain, there is a repetition of movement. an unerring moving forward despite the pin-pricks of cold (or steamy) droplets penetrating the skin. They hurt just a little, (or are relaxing), causing you to lose focus. When this happens, you don’t move in an easy way, but a labored way, as if your chest hurts. As you turn to start a new lap, submerging under the water for the minute or so it takes to fishtail to the surface again, the relief from the rain is palpable.
I sent him to his family for three weeks over the holidays and I took the lead again. It may rain for a while longer, but I see the sun peeking through. I smile and take another breath as my limbs return to the familiar long strong motion of forward.
I am still swimming, whether or not it rains.