i've always loved the water. i love its stillness and quiet. it's the cover of darkness but in blue and white, or the red of an underwater light that i am reaching for. in it, i am enveloped and also free. it cools the fire.
for my tenth birthday, my folks threw me a pre-season birthday party at the local pool. we were wild that day -- the pool normally wouldn't be open for months but it was all ours -- leaping off the diving board, raiding the snack bar, marco polo, truth or dare. my dares involved diving board tricks - i wanted them all: back flips, front flips, back dives, pikes, cartwheels, and for me, the more dangerous cutaway. for those of you not in the know, a cutaway involves standing backward on the board, jumping back and up, and diving in towards the board. the board always grazed my head and to this day, i can still see the detailed edge of it as i skimmed by going down.
that day though, i came down on the board. hard. i went straight up and i came straight down. i saw it coming right at me and for a little kid, it may have been the first time i thought oh fuck. my head and then body crushed and accordioned on it and i collapsed into the water. down and more down and more down, to the bottom of the pool. when i finally came to rest at the bottom of the deep end, i opened my eyes.
it was beautiful. i saw blue swirls and white swirls and currents moving. rays of sunlight dappled and danced. i heard my own heartbeat and the sound of water. it was warm and serene and i felt that i could stay down there forever. it was without time. i thought, there is a world beyond the world and i was humbled and grateful that it was being shown to me when i was still so young. i knew that things would never be the same.
there is a world beyond and within this world. there is a reality that is more real than the wallpaper veil of reality that you and i live in. and sometimes, only the water shows us the way.
after a while, i knew i had to go, so i floated up and saw the face of my sister inches from mine, at first rippling and moving, then real as i broke the surface. good god, i was just about to jump in and pull you out. she said, what were you doing down there?
not knowing how to explain it, i told her, i'm a mermaid. so she called for an ambulance.
the day was march 30, 1980.