I made a fantastic discovery in November. But before I relay this in depth, a story must be told:
It was the height of elementary school, the summer before sixth grade when I walked into Bragg Motel for the first time. Heat splattered on my adorable (?) chub rolls pressed under a swimsuit. Mom and I found this suit at Fashion Bug, a black one-piece with every imaginable hue from the nineties swirling on top of the darkness. My disobedient hair was pulled into a tight bun, and the enticing smell of chlorine perused the summer day. I could hear kids splashing maniacally as Dad told me to enjoy myself and listen to the lifeguard.
The lifeguard’s name was Brandy. She was barely five feet, but still curiously long-legged and bronzed up in a red maillot. She had long, dark hair like my favorite Sailor Moon character, Mars. I imagined she also had a boyfriend who resembled the real-life version of Tuxedo Mask. Lucky bastard. She looked up at me slightly, and extended a small hand. The raw excitement of the day was building in my stomach, so I thought of the chocolate Swiss rolls Dad promised if I completed lessons each week. Still more than that, I wanted the water.
Our class reveled in exercises week after week, floating and holding breath and stroking. I made a few quirky friends, and we perked up over the mention of learning the high dive in a few weeks. A few weeks later, it was time.
I had managed to climb the ladder with limited shaking, and reached the platform. Everyone was in the pool waiting, so there was no failure allowed. I took a deep, soothing breath, prayed for protection, and launched off the board. The air was cool and fast, and then the stronger coolness of our pool overtook my body. Brandy had been waiting below to help me to the surface. When I didn’t reach the apex as quickly as I wanted, to gather fresh air, I panicked. Arms and legs thrashing spasmodically, I drug our poor little lifeguard down lower and lower. She fought valiantly to the top, and I abandoned my lessons for a long time in shame and frustration.
It took a deep, fulfilling discussion with artist friends nineteen years later to realize something significant. What a brave, incredible feat I accomplished by actually jumping off the high dive! How many can say they tackled that without much fear? Yet because of one flimsy finish, I left a passionate hobby to numb myself into safety. Sad day! God has been pursuing my love of water all of the days since, and the time is coming to see it to fruition. Jet-skiing, paddleboarding, and white-water rafting are dynamic, freeing sports. But nothing is better to me water-wise than stroking powerfully through a pool or ocean. Lessons will happen, and then I will take to the waves.
In terms of the treasure found this last month, I have realized I can’t write a novel in a month and I don’t want to. One of my best friends later mentioned that while politely encouraging me, inside she wondered if this was really going to happen. And not in a judgmental way, but in a “I know you well enough to know that this isn’t your true passion, and you won’t make time for it” kind of way. And she was exactly right. What I did gain from National Novel Writing Month was an incredible twin set of short stories, written with vigor and meaning. They were debated over carefully, and are the bones of something truly beautiful. They make my soul yearn for the pen, and lead in an understanding of my attachment to the short story and poem. I’m quite thankful for this narrowed path. I’ve missed blogging, as petty and diary-like as it feels sometimes. I crave rich books, epic poetry, and the time to go hear someone recite one of their original pieces. I’m very proud of the friends who have a talent and love for this art form. I’m also proud to realize my limitations and desires. And while it doesn’t mean I won’t attempt the high dive every now and then, I will continue swimming.