Saturday, August 11, 2012

Night Swimming

There is something undeniably sensual about swimming at night; I'm not talking about swimming at twilight when there is still plenty of light and safety and sameness, no, I'm talking about swimming in a full-bore night when the world is blanketed in an inky blackness that devolves into interesting splotches of dark and light ink when you look into it without glasses. Tonight I walked out into the darkness, the loathsome spotlight guiding my way down the path. I didn't want it on but knew I needed some way to make my way down other than by feel. It's raining, and while I normally abhor the feeling of water falling on me the soft drops of rain feel nice against skin made sticky by humidity. The water is low and a slow mist hovers over deeper waters. Glasses off, I make my way over the gravel, into the warm shallows and deeper. The rocks don't feel right, and I suspect my parents of trying to dig them up again. That is treacherous for me, who has learned this lake, memorized its bottom by feel with sensitive soles. Sharp rocks that most people can't bear to walk on I learned to walk on. I stumble and fall in, annoyed; I don't like to be so disgraceful, I don't like to be loud.

The water is cool, too cold for most people but I can't stand to swim in warm lakes. The water slides up over my shoulders like caressing hands and I dip back to wet all of my hair, savoring that cool, refreshing sigh of water over my scalp that no shower could ever duplicate. I squint  distrustfully out into the mist, at the lights of the dam, before making my slow way back to the dock for the bottle of biodegradable shampoo. My mother has come out, and annoyed, I try and fall miserably to throw the bottle back.

I lean back and let the water take me, rinsing the suds. I can feel the sides of my slightly too small tankini start to ride up and the secret crows on my ribcage threaten escape. Water fills my ears and there is silence, just the gentle plashing of my feet, the silent raindrops on my face; their clouds obscure the stars. I look at my hair, long and dark, slithering and shining next to me like a mystery; in daylight swimming it looks like mermaid hair.

The rippling water as I paddle and kick gently feels good, almost like massaging fingers caressing me on their way by me to places unknown. I always marvel at the buoyancy as the water supports me, yet feeling that tremendous resistance as I move my arms and legs. I'm not a strong swimmer, by any means, but I don't fight the water.

The air is clean, so clean. I take in deep breaths but in the still air and out on the water I can't smell my beloved trees. The chill of the air and the chill of the water are enrobing me and I know it's time to get out of the water, to return to real life, artificial light, noise, people.
Tonight was sacred time. Tonight was worship in the holy temple of Nature. It has been far, far too long.

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