30 July 2011

My First Swim

It's odd to be writing, two years after my surgery, about another "first."  But today I took my first swim since then.

Of course, two summers ago, I was healing from my surgery, which was in July.  I couldn't have gone for a swim until November.  And, of course, I would have swum then only if I had taken a trip to a warm climate or gone to an indoor pool.  And I much prefer swimming in an ocean, lake, stream or some other body of water that's a geographical feature.

Last summer, I didn't swim.  I told myself I didn't want to swim because an infection I had in the spring had just healed and I didn't want to endanger my recovery.  The truth was that I felt fat and didn't want to put on a bathing suit, even if both of the bathing suits I own are one-piece affairs.  

But today I rode with a friend to Rockaway Beach.  It's not anyone's idea of an ideal beach, but it is on the Atlantic and, actually, not bad.  If I wait for a "better" beach, with bluer or warmer water, who knows when I would have been able to swim again?

Some things don't change:  I felt the same sort of release--a catharsis, a liberation and an opening outward--I always feel when I spread my arms and legs in waves of water.  But, I had two other, seemingly contradictory, sensations:  On one hand, I felt like a new dolphin just released into the sea, while, on the other, I felt I was continuing an old dream.  Actually, in terms of my current life, that dream is old:  I experienced it two nights after my surgery.  But it is new, in part because two years ago is really not long ago (unless you are in the fashion or high-technology industries), but also because it was new in the way renewals always are.

Today I came out of the water to a Lakythia, friend who accompanied me there.  I didn't know her when I had the surgery, or the night I had that dream. In fact, I didn't know her until about two months ago.  But we got on our bikes, and everything felt familiar as it always does when you meet it again.