205.348.7264 mfj@sa.ua.edu


Jessica Day


You are worried about swimming. Because, like, you know that you will go swimming one day, but the thought of jumping into the water fills your stomach with wet cement. All your friends have gone swimming— most of them enjoyed the experience, some of them did not. One of your friends likes swimming so much that you never see her anymore because she spends all her time with boys who like to swim, and they go to the pool or to the beach almost every day. One of your friends cut all her hair off and says she is only swimming with girls from now on because boys are terrible swimmers and terrible people. Most of your friends tell you that it is all about who you go swimming with. Like, if you go swimming with someone who loves you it will feel special, and he will let you finish swimming before he gets out of the pool.

              But once you saw a show on television about a girl who went on vacation in Cozumel, and she never came back because some strangers grabbed her and threw her in the pool. She did not want to swim with them, but they did not care because they wanted to swim with her. They liked how she kicked around in the deep end and screamed for them to let her out, that she couldn’t swim, she was drowning. When they were done, they left her in the bottom of the pool and when they reported it on the news, there she was, still in her bruised-up swimming suit with conveniently placed blurs over her top and bottoms. Of course, this could never happen to you, but that is not the point. You are still worried that if something bad happens to you, it will not matter because of Casey in Cozumel or Rachael in Romania or whoever else is having horrible things happen to them. Maybe it is selfish, but you are worried about the little things, too.

              You can hardly imagine going swimming with any of the boys you know now that stand around and stare at you and picture you in your swimsuit. They imagine you swimming with them because they imagine every girl wants to go swim with them, but you do not. Even the boy who you have been dating for a few months— let’s call him Denver— who says he loves you and holds your hand while he drives, you cannot imagine going swimming with him either.

              You are worried about choosing the wrong person to take you to the pool for the first time. Because so much depends on a red wheelbarrow, and if a butterfly flaps his wings in New Mexico, it can cause a hurricane in China, and something about a grasshopper, but you didn’t really understand it. You are not even sure what you are looking for. Sure, you could always go swimming with Denver, but how much do you know about this boy anyway? What will people say when they see you with this boy you barely know? What would be his instinct if you start to drown? Swimming is serious business, and you cannot trust a boy you hardly know, no matter how great of a swimmer he is and no matter how great he looks in his swimming suit to make the right decision if the evening ends in a question mark.

              And swimming has repercussions. If you aren’t careful and you don’t wear your protective gear, you get out of the pool thinking everything is fine and you go to the doctor a month later and find out, you caught a parasite! That’s right, pool water carries these little monsters floating around just waiting to swim on into your body and make you fat and sick. Sure, older people do not seem to mind as much— some of them even invite them in, searching for them with flashlights and fishing nets because it does not seem like the parasites want to latch onto them. But you are still young and one of these little critters would ruin your life!

              Sure, you are thinking that you will not go swimming for a long time. But sometimes plans change. Ask your parents. Even if you do not go swimming for years, you probably will eventually. When you do, should you go swimming with someone who knows a lot about swimming, who could teach you how to swim, or should you go swimming with someone who is not an experienced swimmer so he would not mock you for using the butterfly stroke when you should have backstroked? Maybe you should find your bearings in the shallow end before you swim over to the deep end, or maybe you should dive right in and pray that you were born with gills.

              This is too much stress so perhaps swimming is too much for you to deal with. You will probably just never go swimming. You will never draw up the courage to even just dip your toe in. Perhaps not, though. Perhaps you will go swimming with Denver, who does not know how to swim. You will jump in together and see if you float.

              You think now that the two of you are not good together, but when you swim with him things will be better. Swimming is such an intimate sport that you will know each other better after the act, and then he will never leave you and you will stop wanting to leave him. Or perhaps you will falter and drown, and there will be no one there to save you because Denver has already left the pool.