my father knew me. even when my mom and I painted the same identical portrait at the Paint and Twist, he was able to guess which one mine was because I “always took up more space.” he saw me. I was seen by him. to be seen by someone and to emulate them and to grow distant from them to then try to get closer. how tragic. I hate this. I turn the water off.
I had a dream of the Tysons the night before and I could see now that I had been dreaming of them for days. they were summer friends. the friends I spent with at the pool. they were both on the swim team but I couldn’t get up at six am or commit to sports. I was an excellent swimmer though. unafraid too. I used to dive off the high dive. I always told myself the same thing. it will be over by the time you remember even doing it. by the time you leap, you will have hit the water. I just had to be careful not to go to far forward or my calves would smack the water. I was good. I hated if I did it and no one saw. I’d have to do it again. I turned to face the tile. I didn’t want to live in reverie or the past but just feel the loss of that ability. both the bravado and the lung capacity, the daring, the quickness. I was a rival to all the boys at the pool. I could outswim them. out dive them. hold my breath longer, touch the bottom faster and this was a great deal to me. not just the competition which was fun, but the new sport. the new game: the boys. always ranked above us and better than us before we even had a chance to form an opinion about innate abilities–who is better at swimming men or women? it’s always men. then women. I didn’t want to be the first of all the girls. I wanted to be the first of the whole pool. I wanted to date the top boy. or whatever we did at nine. be my crush. buy him Now n’ Laters. watch him get tan and smile only at me.
this time I’m obsessed with depth. my cheek is cool resting on the bathroom wall and I commit to feeling the way the tile rubs back against me. how long I’ve really been thinking about my childhood vs. how long I have been twisting slowly to get to this place. the other side of the tub or just a new arrangement. I still couldn’t focus my eyes so I stared at the white linoleum. clean. last time I was obsessed with dirt. this time I’m obsessed with depth. at the same stage. this beginning burst where your body is beginning to acclimate as you warp into the thing you are seeking: clarity, forgiveness, hope. water. swimming. I look back down at the tub floor and watch my feet again and then slowly drop my hands in the water. watch my hands again. see the faded heart ripple. I have more than five hours of this left.