Learning to Swim

There’s something jarring about seeing all of your stuff laid out, taken out of context, and shoved together like some sort of fallen, avant garde Jenga tower.

Moving tableau

There’s a bit of humor in it.

And sadness.

Plenty of mixed emotions you can’t quite pinpoint.

But your resolve to start over unites the amorphous piles. After all, why else is this stuff–the piecemeal, materialistic summary of your life thus far–scattered about?


I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. And not just because our apartment looks like an episode of Hoarders. (Not really. I don’t think?)

Part of this whole starting over bit is reflecting on what’s instigated it. And since my congested self has been up since 2 AM, I figure it might be a good time to take stock of what’s been packed into the past year.

So, I just started sifting back through earlier posts, gaining perspective on how I’ve changed since starting this rambly little blog.

And I found this incomplete, unpublished post from 31 October 2012: “Drowning.”

Do you ever have those moments when you realize you’ve been slowly drowning, halfheartedly flailing about like some extra in Jaws? When you see that your attempts to stay afloat start dragging others down into the murky depths? And there’s no lifeguard on duty.

Then something clicks inside your head–tells you, Float, you fool!

So you stop fighting, calm down, reorient yourself, and start managing your new course with the current. Gently directing yourself in the direction you want to go, instead of splashing about and making a ruckus. Because, with your mind focused, you realize (1) You’re scaring the fish and (2) The water is only a foot or so deep. You’ve got this.

You just needed to experience that loss of control to realize that you can take the reins at any moment, right yourself, and stand up if you need to.

So it came as an odd surprise that during a recent paddle through tumultuous mental seas, an excerpt from a poem I wrote in seventh grade popped into my head.

“…He pulls me up

And I am relieved

To be saved

From the raging sea…”

Even while I was writing it back then, I wondered who exactly “he” was. My father? Some “He” I’d learned about in CCD? Some Jesse Bradford doppelganger patrolling the beaches, searching for someone to rescue?

But with life’s latest volley of social obligations, work stressors, and health-related issues, I read it with new eyes–some with a bit more experience behind them than the ones in that seventh grader’s body.

He is me.

I’m the author of my life.

I can always re-learn how to swim. Even in vast, stormy seas.

I can make it just fine. As long as I remember I’m my own life preserver.

Now, it’s pretty clear that I was trying to navigate the disgusting depths of my toxic job. I probably wrote this around 6:15 in the morning–about ten minutes after my hour and a half drive to work, and a few minutes after my bazillionth Starbucks mocha of the month jump-started my brain.

But there’re parts of this that still resonate, which is why I find it so interesting. Especially now, as Andy and I are closing up shop in North Carolina.

So much has happened since I wrote that blurb.

We’ve done a lot.

Realized the untenable nature of our jobs–how each has been a complete succubus, draining us of our fun-loving personalities.

Set out on a cross country journey to find what it is that we’re looking for, and ending up in Los Angeles–where we’ll be living in almost two weeks.

Made hard decisions, and took life by the reins.

Laughed and cried and wondered how in the world we were going to do it.

Known that we’ll do it somehow, despite our fears.

And acknowledged that our happiness is worth fighting for, and that apathy and complacency have no place in our lives.

Amid everything, we’ve had one another. And I know I couldn’t have done this without him. I’ve never had someone provide the specific kinds of support, love, and compassion he’s shown me, and I’m still sort of blown away by it all. Ultimately, though, I’m grateful.

So, I was wrong while “Drowning.”

The duo.

He’s my life preserver, keeping me afloat.

My swim instructor, advising me to stop splashing around.

And current, pushing me forward.

4 Replies to “Learning to Swim”

  1. You’re just so in love you give Andy all the credit, which is a good thing, but don’t discount your own resolve and strengths. Together you two are one powerful pair taking on the world !

  2. Linda is spot on- it really does require two dedicated people to make it all work. The secret is that in a good relationship it doesn’t seem like work-most of the time! We all have our moments,my dear hubby has the patience of a saint. I think I amuse him to no end…
    It’s sweet you think of Andy as your knight in shining armour- may it always be so!

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