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The water is cold.  It always is, at first.  I have to wade in bit by bit, each body part marking a limit reached; ankles, calves, knees, thighs.  There is always a big pause at the thighs.  I know once my groin hits that water, there will be a moment of total displeasure and I put that off until goaded on by my inner voice, ashamed of my cowardice. 

Waist deep, it seems pointless to put off the inevitable. 

Yet I do.

Throughout this procedure, I’ve been dipping my hands and wrists in the water.  It helps my body adapt. I rub the water on my face and head.  This also helps. 

And then, even if the body and mind is not completely convinced, there comes that moment when it’s only a matter of counting to three.  Get it over with. Get on with it. 

The sun is shining, which makes it seem warm, but there is also a slight breeze which diminishes whatever comfort the sun has to offer.  The breeze causes me to shiver.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

One, two… three!

My hands slice into the surface and soon the weight of the water rushes about me.  My eyes are shut tight, as is my mouth.  Moving through the water, I skim the surface of the bottom.  I swim until the panic takes hold.  Breath.  I’m running out.  I reason with myself.  Just a few more yards, but, no. 

Up toward the surface I go.  It always takes a bit longer than I am comfortable with.  As I break the water’s surface, my mouth opens, attempting to inhale and exhale at the same time. 

I take note of the temperature of the water and wonder why I was being such a big baby.  It’s fine.  It feels great.  I dive down once more.

I love the water.

It’s quiet down there.

The boyfriend and I have been going swimming at least once a week at this outdoor swimming hole in the boonies.  It’s part of a park reserve.  The whole facility is really well cared for.  There are changing rooms, a concession stand, and the beach is combed daily.  The pool itself has a sand/pebble bottom and is lightly chlorinated.  You can see all the way to the bottom.  At its deepest, which is at the center of the pond, it is only six feet, but that’s deep enough for me.  

Lifeguards are on duty during certain hours; otherwise you swim at your own risk.  The boyfriend and I get there as early as possible to avoid the crowds.  That means the heat of the day hasn’t yet hit, nor has the sun had ample enough time to warm up the water, so it’s always a challenge, working up the courage to dive in.

We swim laps for about an hour, commenting on each other’s form and horsing around occasionally.  I count my laps, which annoys the boyfriend, but I like to set a goal. 

Some mornings, I must say, I am not feeling it at all.  But once there, and once in the water, I am good to go, though I lose all interest once I have reached my goal for the day, which is typically about the same time that families with small children start taking over the beach.  The boyfriend and I are of one mind when it comes to children and crowds: exit stage right.

I really enjoy our time together, and am so grateful for this opportunity.  We laugh a lot.  And it costs next to nothing - twelve bucks for a season’s pass.

I’ve really missed it.  Swimming.

I used to go swimming twice a week at the YMCA, when I worked downtown.  I loved breaking up my workout routine with what I consider to be the best full body work out ever.  I’d do laps then, too

Swimming has been a part of my life ever since I can remember.  Like piano lessons and scouting, it was one of those things that my mother insisted all her children participate in.  I never thought about it as a sport, only recreation.  The local municipal pool was where I spent the bulk of my summers.

So, this summer is a return to those days.  Only this time, I am not a lone wolf.   I actually have, for the first time in my life, someone with whom to share the joys of swimming outdoors.

I still can’t believe how lucky I am to have found him.  We have much in common, while our differences tend to complement one another.  Our brains actually work on a similar wavelength. 

It’s still all new and exciting.  A little scary.  A little thrilling.  A little challenging.

Like dipping a toe into a swimming hole first thing in the morning.

Toes and feet, first.  Then the ankles, the calves...

One, two… three!

Sure, you wish you could dive right in...

...but it's best if you take your time.



Queer Heaven said...

What a lovely post today!

Mike said...

Nice essay. So is the boyfriend IN any of these photos?

anne marie in philly said...

there are so many cute asses here I don't know where to start!

and yeah, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to relationships (ask me how I know this).

whkattk said...

Great essay, Upton! If your writing within the (completed) novel is anything like this, you should never abandon your dream, as you indicated in the TMI Lotto post.

BlkJack said...

I love the water! I grew up around the great lakes ane now I'm in the pacific wonderland of California.