30 June 2017

happy place

Still from my film, "The Call of the Running Tide."
Still from my film, "The Call of the Running Tide."  
Set photo from "The Call of the Running Tide."

I have two true happy places: under the surface and the big comfy chair.

The big comfy chair is where I'm writing this. It's 00:13. My brain is a riot, and I'm missing my other happy space.

It was discovered on accident. I was at a Girl Scout pool party at the Perry's, and a friend (J.?) asked how long I could hold my breath in the jacuzzi. Curious, competitive, eager to please, I took a big gulp of air and went below the surface. I spider-manned against the bench walls, holding myself under. After settling flat underneath, my back to the cement, I listened. Bubbles whirled around me but it silenced my mind, giving me one thing to focus on, one task––internal breath. With this ability to relax under water –– to find comfort in it –– I did pretty well in this non-competition. I hit the surface with a big intake of air and slouched against the chipping tiles.  We spent the rest of the time talking about skin tags and third nipples before it was time to get out of the water. Our leaders (my mom and Mrs. P) sat us on the itchy grass for a discussion regarding cookie sales and the upcoming gift wrapping paper season.

This discovery of underwater clarity did not hit me consciously until a few years later. One particularly hot summer in the SGV, I went for a swim. I found a pair of goggles some friends left behind, and reveled in this crisp and pain-free view of our chlorine-tinted pool. Bored, slightly tired, and a little weird, I rested my calves on the rim of the pool. My fingers plugged my nose and backwards I peddled, as my one free arm maneuvered my oxygenated body down, parallel to the pool wall. I still see it in my head when I think about it: the world upside-down, the surface reflecting the sky above like unset jell-o. From down below, I could hear nothing but my blood pumping in my ears. My full focus was on the pair of birds playing tag on the wavering telephone wire above. I watched this until my lungs ached with desperation, and I finally tore my legs off their awkward resting place.

I find a sense of calm in the water. I've taken naps out on the ocean turbulence, where the waves don't crash and the sun beats down warmly on my eyelids. I've taken laps underwater, riding the pool floor until my eyesight begins to dim. I still hold myself in the nook of the hot-tub, listening to the cacophony of the jets as they whirl around me, swishing my hair in every direction.

From the back seat of my car, my cousin asked earlier today what place is most ideal for me. I answered in a laundry list of memory: laying on carpeted floor listening to music, sitting by a fire with a book, watching lightning erupt across the sky, a cuppa and the quiet company of my dogs. While these moments are serene, none of these hold a flame to the calm I find in the deep blue.