Sunday I stood in the water at Ala Moana waist deep waving my hands back and forth just below the surface, frozen in that spot for more than ten minutes. I stood there so long I gave up on the stopwatch I had started in my car before walking across the beach to the water’s edge. I gave up on timing myself. I gave up on swimming at all. I gave up on everything.
Enormously tired from the ride the day before, which had been followed by a full delirious day of work, I stood there and thought of all the reasons not to swim and started to let myself off the hook. I’d worked so hard the day before. I could take a day off to rest.
A miniscule voice inside gave a pitiful counter argument don’t give up, you’re already here, you’ll be so disappointed. But none of my usual mantras worked. I was inches away from walking right back to my car and driving home, scrambling for anything that would motivate me to at least swim a few hundred yards. As the families around me started wondering what the weirdo in the swim cap and goggles was doing just standing there for so long it finally came to me. I thought of Coach C’s fingertips pressed against the small of my back. I let the memory of it push me into the water and I finally started swimming.
In the channel I thought of the letter I got from a friend the day before about how she fell for and got tangled up with a married man. It didn’t end well, all three hearts broken in a heap on the floor. And she’s right. Of course she’s right. These things don’t work out the way they do in the movies where no one gets hurt and all ends well, the good guys happy, the bad ones elsewhere, out of sight out of mind.
But I thought about my mom too, telling me how she broke up with a boyfriend to be with my dad all those years ago. Forty-one anniversaries later we can be assured that worked out pretty well. When you know you just know. And when you’re happy and secure you move away from the things that aren’t working in order to make room for the things that are. She’s right too.
Swimming was a constant struggle. I told myself over and over Just one more buoy… Just one more buoy… Just one more… until I made it to the last one. The plan was to walk the beach back but that seemed ludicrous when I finally got there. I wasn’t dead or drowning or exhausted. Why in the world wouldn’t I swim all the way back?
But swimming back is always harder. The little lifeguard tower takes forever to get any bigger, to seem any closer. Somehow an hour in the water feels like three and a half days.
In the letter my friend kept saying if this married guy was a real man he would have become clear within himself before coming to her. She’s right about that too and it brought me to an understanding of what I’m trusting my coach to do.
I’m not going to push for something that’s not there only to wind up losing what I already have. Better to value what is actually happening rather than what I desire. I’m not going to hope for someone’s heart to break so I can get more attention from a guy who for all I know won’t turn out to be all I’ve imagined him to be. Nor am I going to waste anymore time frozen on the beach hiding behind my fear.
I’m just going to be my awesome self and wait patiently while he decides. He can stay where he is or he can come to me when his head is clear, his body clean and his heart open. He can approach me at his best or not at all.
Chances are really good he’s gonna stay exactly where he is and in three weeks when training wraps up I’ll get the opportunity to be satisfied and grateful for everything he’s given me. Then I’ll get to move on to whatever is next. Regardless of the outcome it’s pretty fuckin’ rad to have someone in my life whose simple presence pushes me to be so much better, someone who gives me an occasional day off from motivating myself, someone who pays attention, looks me straight in the eye and claps when I accomplish a difficult task.
How can I not be optimistic? A few weeks ago I never would have thought I could swim the full 1500 meters of Ala Moana in less than an hour. So what does that hold in store for a few weeks from now? Everything happens as it will and still, no matter how much we think we want to know, we have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow.
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