(photo thanks to Claudia Allen)
I stood there and peered through the fence watching the cutest boy in town making a spectacular dive into the town pool and melted. The summer had begun and I had yet to make decisions between sitting at home reading my books or doing something really special. Would it be sitting under a tree reading the latest Nancy Drew or would learning how to be an Olympic style swimmer be my choice. I wanted to stand on the diving board, jump into the air and amaze my friends and I had all summer to do it. No one was going to stand in my way even though I was petrified of water.
Anyone that knows me is quite aware of my fear of anything to do with water. It started the day my late mother stood me on the end of a lake pier much like from Patty McCormick from the Bad Seed. Over and over she told me not to stare into the water less my reflection pull me in. Of course I stared into the water, fell in, and needed to be rescued.
After telling my best friend about my summer vacation dreams she told me I should start small by conquering a lake first. So the next Sunday at Selby Lake I slowly ventured into the water inch by inch. I thought that swimming might not take all that long to learn until one of my male friends came roaring out of the lake covered in blood suckers.
As I stood on terra firma and watched a few men try to burn the suckers off his body with a lighter I suddenly thought that this might not be the ideal way to enjoy my summer vacation. After sharing my summer dream with my parents they insisted I should enroll in swimming lessons. That first day I stood there feeling quite alone in my ruffled flowered one piece shuddering from fear and disgust.
Not only am I afraid of water but I have an issue with feet, germs and wetness. After exiting the change room I had to figure out how to walk to the mandatory shower and exit without my feet touching the floor. I tried very earnestly to put my foot down on the wetness of the concrete but all I could feel was imaginary bacterial ooze crawling through my toes. I closed my eyes, ran under the shower as quick as I could and then stood by the end of the pool.
I actually stayed right beside the pool for about 7 days and then graduated to sitting on the edge until the instructors became very concerned. Was Linda ever going to swim or would she end her summer vacation still being a landlubber? Finally one day I courageously stood on the ladder and slowly descended into the blue water. For another two weeks I spent most of my time in the water but desperately clutching the edge of the pool with my hands.
Every lesson I would assume the same position until one day I made miraculous headway. As I approached the pool one morning for lessons I saw the town fire truck parked right next to it. It seems that someone either polluted the water with their bacterial laden feet or there had been way too many “accidents” in it. The fire trucks were filling the pool that was now only 4 inches deep and I quickly ran through the germ laden floor, down the ladder and went into the pool. With the water lapping dangerously around my ankles I mimicked every swimming style known to man air guitar style. I was finally in my element and was achieving my summer goal. I was swimming!
As the water slowly filled the pool I became more comfortable and after a few weeks I was suddenly swimming in the deep end. One day I decided to venture up to the diving board and with coaxing friends behind me I jumped in. I remember going to the bottom quite quickly and then after I reached the top I screamed with accomplished delight until I saw the cutest boy in town dive off the board heading for me. There in slow motion his lower half and my head seemed to become one as he hit the water hard. We wrestled in the water for what seemed hours to get free and his feet always seemed to be in my face. After I escaped I left the pool and decided to go home still feeling somewhat triumphant that I had met my summer vacation goal.
To this day I do not swim and still have fear of water but my biggest fear was met that very day I achieved my first diving board jump. You see a week later I had a strange rash on my face that grew with the speed of light. That day in the pool I had contacted what is called Staphylococcus Aureis or in layman’s terms- Impetigo. Some people blamed the water but in my mind I knew where I got it from. I am positive to this day it was the cute boys' bacterial infected feet that ended up ruining my perfect summer vacation. Anyways, good thing I never had a crush on that boy as if his feet were that yucky one has to wonder what the rest of him was like.
Linda Seccaspina 2012
Actual 1920's photos from my photo collection at Ocean Beach, Ca.
I woke up at 3 am and did a photo blog about water to accompany this one..:)