...and swimming in a place like this:
People do NOT swim in the mountains and lakes around here in May, unless they are insane. Katherine and I are insane, and we love it. The weather was unseasonably warm, and the water was a constant (and expected) freezing cold, but we dove in anyway. I jumped off a county dock and my feet brushed the seaweed at the bottom, and I knew I was alive. We jumped into a mountain lake where I couldn't see the bottom, and the metallic-snow-smell of the water let me know I was alive. Living, with a capital L.
And to share that with my daughter? There's nothing like it. Reveling in nature, and in the beauty of our region, and in the fact that our bodies are healthy and strong, and that we are together....well, when I slice through the cold water, I get a rush like nothing else, and when I do it with her my body hums the refrain "that's my girl!" and I'm not sure if I'm talking about her or myself.
I used to hike most weekends, pre-marriage, and I always swam at the destination. (Some like to hike to mountaintops. I don't mind that, but I prefer it if there is a lake to jump in to cool off from the hard workout of the hike somewhere along the way, preferably the middle.) I was a known skinny dipper: if I got to the lake and there were others there, I'd simply swim out in my swimsuit, then slip it off and hold it while I swum around where nobody could see me (because often I'd be the only one swimming). This made me giggle, and felt a bit like wearing sexy lingerie under my clothes at a business meeting: it was a gift just for myself, a delicious secret.
Bryan wasn't into hiking, and he didn't smile at me the way other men had when I dove into cold water. (Prior to Bryan, more than one man had found my antics in cold water HOT.) Bryan frowned. He told me I was foolish. He rolled his eyes. He said he was tired and wanted to go home.
I didn't hike or swim much at all during our marriage.
Our friends thought about jumping in. They watched us smiling, and shrieking, and laughing, and they said, "Oh we should join you that looks so fun..." but they did not. This did not surprise me, because it's not for everybody. I am used to swimming alone, even when the hike is with friends. Katherine is the only one I've ever met who will join me every time, no convincing needed.
Swimming in a mountain lake isn't unlike what I need to do with my life right now. I'm diving into the pain, convinced that doing so will remind me what it feels like to be free, and that the exhileration of it will compensate for the fear and the icy shock.
In one month, Bryan needs to move out.
In one month, I will be my own primary breadwinner for the first time in nine years.
In one month, I will officially 100% be a single mom.
I've been standing at the edge of this lake, wading until my feet tingle with the pain, but soon, the wading must stop, and it will be time to dive in. I think that I'll be underwater for a while, and that I'll nearly faint from the cold, but I believe that I will emerge more alive than ever, more myself than ever. I only pray that this is so, and that removing the dysfunctional relationship from daily view will help Katherine emerge stronger, more sure of herself, as well.
It'd be easy to add up all the pain;
all the hopes and dreams you watched go up in flames...
But not me:
I'm Alive, sung by Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews