Today I found myself floating in a magic sea. I am in Cuba and my friend swears she can teach me to swim. I have my doubts. I have tried all of my life to learn to swim. My friend says my problem is fear. I will admit I have my anxious moments especially when anything wants control. Today the water wants my control. It is asking me to relax, to give in and to allow it to cradle me in its waves. I fight as the thought of losing my control brings my anxiety to the forefront.
I am trying my best to relax as the sound of my daddy’s voice rings in my ear “don’t go any further than you can see the bottom.” Needless to say my dad cannot swim but for the remote possibility that some day I would fall off of a boat and drown, my dad insisted I take swim lessons. I agreed with the condition he would buy me a monkey. You see since birth I had dreamed of owning a monkey. I had no desire for the wild untrained primate I had seen slinging poop at the zoo. My monkey was going to wear clothes and hold my hand as we walked through my small community. He was to be my best friend. Dad agreed if I learned to swim. That dream disappeared just as I disappeared under the deep water being pulled to safety by the lifeguard. I refused to try again.
This day as I float I feel the tension in my legs and I feel my tightly clinched jaw. My friend says relax, loosen my face. I give in. I feel the water surround my neck and creep in cool ringlets around my ears. I enjoy the sun flickering on my eyelashes and the taste of salt as small droplets enter my mouth. I let them in. I think of all the control I attempt to hold onto. I want to control it all; my life and everyone else’s. I float on in reality knowing I have no control. As for now the water has it.
My mind drifts to a small speck of dirt on a white shoe and my dad’s voice telling me it is there and to remove it so I will be perfectly clean. I hear my aunts speak of my hair and why it is not in place. I hear my dad telling me to be careful with everything and everyone. I hear the reminders to always be on alert and to look around should any danger be waiting. My body has heard it all too. My shoulders are very comfortable in their usual place hunched up around my ears. I float on feeling the tight rigidity in my legs give way to an unfamiliar sense. My stomach rises and sinks to a rhythm as I relax my tight jaws. This is new. I like this feeling. There is no perfection here only a willingness to be free and loose. I breathe in knowing that my shoulders and I have to have a talk, a long talk.
photo: Jennifer Esperanza