From the get-go I took to water. There was no stopping me, and no one around who would. Both my parents were avid swimmers, no, that’s not near close enough, they were water nymphs. If you look carefully at the photo below, you can see a head bobbing way out. probably their’s. Those heads called to me so I did whatever needed to propel myself out beyond the buoys. Water baby to water girl to water lover to nymph I haven’t stopped my love of swimming. As I move closer to my big birthday this weekend, my love of swimming is the best metaphor I have to head straight into the unknown waters.
For whatever you lose
(like a you or a me)
It’s always ourselves we find
in the sea.
Whether you’re a long time reader of Nine Cent Girl or not, you might be surprised to find how cautious I can be. At least in several areas (none of which include water). I am not a fan of speed. Downhill skiing, despite a lifetime of trying, has been a chore I can’t improve on. I halt myself every few feet as soon velocity and acceleration ramp up. I have been known to put on the brakes on every downhill slope, skiing or biking it matters not. But under my own power, diving straight into surf or current, I love the nudge and force of water. You might even find me laughing after a raucous boogie board run, sand through my hair and water up my nose, in my mind the ride, however momentarily frightening, would be worth it. Sitting on the beach afterwards, taking a joyous breath after surviving yet another romp with the ocean god, I look over my shoulder and decide to do it all again. Here I do not give up. Here I only want to go again, and again, despite the pounding, wild rides that scare the crap out of me or the ones that go flat too soon and you are left nowhere, regardless, I am willing to take another chance. Not a bad metaphor, right? My parents kept diving in until the end and I, blessedly, am compelled to do the same.
I have been a fan of numbers for ever it seems. I think it was my birth date that started that love affair. All of it is divisible by 5, the month, day and year, and as this particular number and its corresponding divisibility chart was an easy one for me to remember, 5 became my favorite. Later when numerology hit the East Village and my older brother brought me to a 5 story walk-up for astrological readings with a few numbers thrown about, we dreamed of all the greatness ahead, and I was even happier. The nine year cycles, the 11 year master year, the invitation of a number one year… the creative joy of a five. It goes on and on with numbers, cycling through so many until your actual age seems like just a side note. Once I hit a half a century, that had a shiny new appeal. But more than that, each birthday felt odder and odder to me. What was 25 supposed to feel like? Or 33? Or 47? And now, this big one, is as far from my inner reality than I could have ever imagined. Not a life retired but a life with a horizon to stretch out for and dive in for and so much to learn and all these people to keep dancing with on a rooftop. This one.
Sirens, half woman, half bird, calling distant travelers to their rocky shores and sharp beaks, are out there still. Fear might halt our quests. Might cause us to miss out, say no to what these next decades offer. Instead, I just renewed my passport and am eager to swim out past that boundary line once more. It’s a numbers game, a roll of the dice, as to what the next third of my life will bring, but I’m ready.