Today, we took our kids swimming. I’ve ordered a pool pass for countless summers. We’re part of why the local municipality rewrote its policy to define family…because having a family of eight to ten to twelve get into the summer fun for the same price as a family of four seemed unfair. However, many of the pool sites look similar and I accidentally signed up for a pool system for the summer that is much better than we’ve had up to now. They have indoor and outdoor pools –so off we went.
I really ought to know better, but years of experience prove, I don’t. The indoor pool had two diving boards. One for sane normal people, and the other, for people like me. Despite having 54 years of experience with gravity, the tower sang its siren call to me. Regaling my offspring with tales of the Y tower in Beamont, a huge monstrosity of steel and wood and concrete where you stood on a plank (about six feed wide by 8 feet wide) and daring souls ran off the end, plunging into the deep.
More than a few walked back down those stairs, unwilling to risk their necks for the thrill of dropping what must have been twenty feet into twenty-five feet of water. I’m sure the physics weren’t safe then, yet somehow we survived to adulthood. As such, the drop from a safe twelve feet seemed infintely safer and so I talked myself into climbing the stairs.
The board proved narrow, making the walking out the last three feet to jump an act of bravery. I jumped and forgot to point my feet, a fact my feet have not forgotten since. Still, having proven my courage and impressed my teens (not an easy feat even with my flexed feet), I contented myself with the rest of the pool, swiming laps, floating, occasionally attempting to coax the youngest two in swimming practice.
Two of my teens decided to jump. “Mom jumped off the high board first thing!” my youngest daughter said to my son. He’d been skateboarding and missed the jump. So I needed to go again. Stupid, stupid, stupid, I know, but perhaps the stupidity came from having jumped off the tower so many times so many years ago. The smarts bellyflopped then, and have been circulating in the Gulf of Mexico ever since they drained the pool.
Familiarity breeds contempt, and presumptive familiarity leads to foolishness. I decided I’d dive this time, just to make it new. The board still felt narrow and I overarched such that it became a sort of flip –and it wasn’t graceful or pretty. Plus it stung. My legs are still reminding me…”We’ve been good to you for fifty-four years and this is how you reward us?”
What did I learn? That fourty years from when I started jumping off the high board is long enough to weed out the skill, but not the Darwinian impulse that allowed for it to happen. Still, there’s something to be said for being able to say, “I dove off the high dive.” even if the dive itself proved ugly. It feels like a summer seized, as all the belly flops, flips, half gainers, back dives, can openers, cannon balls, jack knives and swans came back to me in memory if not muscle memory. We finished the day with blueberry pie. Happy Summer everyone. Every day’s a blessing, even when you botch it on the high dive and should know better.