Last night I nearly drowned.
I’m not sure how I ended up in the water.It was salt water, frothy, and that brownish color of a pond or lake and there was a lot of turbulence, so I was struggling.
You should know that I am not a swimmer in my waking life.
My personal history with water begins back in the day when my family used to go to the “black beach” as Lewes Beach was called among folks I knew (though we all knew and used its proper name in our “What I Did For Summer Vacation” reports).None of us, including my parents, could swim though my dad would do this rush dive into the water and propel himself forward with his hands or feet—I could never figure out which—that simulated swimming.
Then when I was seventeen I nearly drowned.
I was thrown into the deep end of the pool in a summer camp prank.Much like all the superstitions I had been told about drowning, my head emerged three times as I futilely fought the water.So on the last time that I went completely under, right after the superstition’s promised three chances to emerge, I was convinced I was going to die in front of all of my friends with a scared look on my face and never able to find out if my newly ex-boyfriend would stay an ex.He did.
And I didn’t die.
But it would be years before I was comfortable in large bodies of water.
I’m not sure who rescued me that afternoon; I just grabbed the body that I had just kicked and held to him like a monkey; arms and legs wrapped so tight around him they were probably blue. On the side of the pool, a camp counselor kneeled over me and in between cussing whoever had thrown me in—no one admitted to it—ducked the chlorine-y water I coughed up in his face.I laid on my back hoping my contact lenses hadn’t popped out; not sure that it was okay to not be thinking something deeper when I was this close to death.
I took swim lessons in 2004 and 2007.The things I got from them: less fear of water and the ability to move forward in water while prostrate I used last night.And the desire to live.
I’ve had apnea-induced dreams wherein I am fighting to breathe.Half between wake and sleep, I can see and hear everything around me but am unable to remove the catch in my throat that will allow me to wake, shift my body from whatever position I’m in—positions that I’ve since learned restrict my air flow.I’ve learned that I should not sleep on my back from these experiences.
Last night was not one of those experiences; was not my unconscious mind trying to call me to consciousness.
I was just as exhausted during the dream but not quite as convinced of my imminent doom.I expected to find the shore.I marveled at my body’s innate wisdom to save itself using a skill it wasn’t convinced it had.
I woke up with the taste of salt water in my mouth.