Just Keep Swimming

I posted this on social media two days ago: Monday, 6/24.

Just keep swimming.

This past Saturday was three weeks since Nana’s passing; two weeks since her funeral. June 22 is Nana and Papa’s wedding anniversary. Z woke up, and she led me through her morning routine. I asked what she wanted for breakfast.

She looked at me and said, “Nemo.”

I very deliberately paused. “You want to watch Nemo? Ok, let’s go turn it on.”

We watched about 30 minutes of the movie when Reilly got home from the gym. After pausing the movie, we went upstairs and started eating the donuts he brought. Then Z headed back downstairs to finish watching. I followed her.

While the movie was playing I had my laptop open, writing and reviewing some personal thoughts. Then I heard Dory sing, “Keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

I stopped typing. This was the motto Nana had applied to her own struggles and afflictions the past couple of years. No matter the procedure, the pain, the fatigue, nausea, heartache: she pushed on. With a smile, even.

As Dory sang, I cried. As Marlin guided her through the swarm of Portuguese Man-o’-Wars stinging her, and Dory fought to stay conscious, she sang: Keep swimming.

After Finding Nemo, Z asked to watch Finding Dory. Young Dory sang “Keep swimming” when a current swept her away from her parents. She sang it throughout her search for her parents. That was how she survived. And succeeded.

I cried again.

It had been a while since Z watched either of these movies, and Reilly suggested she was feeling nostalgic. I agreed, but not just for the movies, but for Nana. I know she misses her.

Z knew what the day was. It wasn’t a coincidence she wanted to watch those movies.

Then while we were in Payson yesterday for dinner, Cousin Jessica made and brought these dogtags for all of us. A reminder of Carla; a talisman for how to live our own lives.

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We’re gonna just keep swimming, Nana. We love you.

Dipping, the Skinny Kind

Wednesday night at Carnegie Hall was a tribute to R.E.M., where various artists sang their favorite R.E.M. songs. Ingrid Michaelson was one of these artists.

I went to her concert last night at the City Winery. She described her part in the R.E.M. tribute, and when she mentioned the song she sang, my heart leapt:

“Nightswimming”

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.
The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago,
Turned around backwards so the windshield shows.
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse.
Still, it’s so much clearer.
I forgot my shirt at the water’s edge.
The moon is low tonight.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.
I’m not sure all these people understand.
It’s not like years ago,
The fear of getting caught,
Of recklessness and water.
They cannot see me naked.
These things, they go away,
Replaced by everyday.

Nightswimming, remembering that night.
September’s coming soon.
I’m pining for the moon.
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
Could not describe nightswimming.

You, I thought I knew you.
You I cannot judge.
You, I thought you knew me,
this one laughing quietly underneath my breath.
Nightswimming.

The photograph reflects,
Every streetlight a reminder.
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night, deserves a quiet night.

I have never been skinny dipping. I’ve always wanted to. I hear other people’s experiences, and it sounds wonderful. Seeming vulnerable and nervous, yet empowered. This song is the way I imagine my experience when it finally happens, in setting and thoughts and  feelings. I’m glad Ingrid got to sing this song for Michael Stipe and friends. She sang it for us, and she did a bangup job. It was her and her voice and a looping pedal at the microphone and an upright bass. I loved it.

This song was part of a mix tape my friend, Sarah, gave me before I left for college, some 15 years ago, almost. It always stirs nostalgia. Its images haunt my mind. Its power draws me to the water’s edge, toes squishing in the sand, the water’s chilling air gently bristling my legs as I slowly step deeper. No one’s around, just me and the moon and a certain unexplained yet understood freedom, sprawled out, reaching out to each other just because we can. Splashing, gliding, floating. Goosebumps, then temperance, then utter and incomprehensible joy.

It’s one of the things I have to do before I die. It’s one of the things I’m definitely going to shave my legs for.

Tri Stuff Out

Right now I have a chocolate zucchini bread puffing up in the crockpot. I’ve never made bread in a crockpot, so we’ll see how it turns out. I even used cocoa powder and pureed the zucchini. It should be ready in another couple of hours. If it’s good, I’ll take it to class in the morning. If it’s not, I’ll leave it for the roommates. Hee.

Last night at the pool, the lifeguard was coaching some teenage girls on their technique. When I finished my workout, I asked the lifeguard if he charges for coaching. He said no, he just likes to help out. Then he asked if I was going to do a triathlon, because I was donning the outfit. I told him I was. He then gave me few pointers on triathlons, from looking out for other swimmers to sighting the finish line to making the transitions between sports. I thanked him when his students looked like they were done with their laps, and he wished me luck.

The open water where we’ll be swimming is actually a “heated” lake, which means that body of water gets to cool a nearby power plant. I’m hoping that’s only electricity. Maybe my friends and I will be glowing Saturday night on our drive home. Like those neon lights they use to pimp up the underside of cars and trucks. Maybe we’ll set off a bunch of Geiger counters. Maybe we’ll attract aliens, and then maybe we’ll melt them with our radiation.

It’s time to focus.

Try-athlon

Last week, I tried dolphin kicking, and I really liked it. I liked squiggling underwater and breaking through the surface and looking back to see how far I went. No dolphins were harmed in my efforts to pretend to be a professional swimmer.

Today, I tried flip-turning. I got the main idea, and it was pretty fun once I learned how not to get a bunch of water up my nose. Kicking off the wall is fun, people. I may have to keep up my swimming just so I can improve the flip-turn.

The swimming distance for the sprint triathlon is 750 meters. Not quite a half-mile. I swam that distance all in one shot today, calming myself down, regulating my breathing, sustaining a rhythm. It was a slow swim, and I felt really good afterward, like I was ready to bike 20 kilometers and then run 5k.

We’ll see how it goes in a week and a half.

I’m getting pretty excited.

I smell like pool.

I swam in the hotel swimming pool this morning. With less people around (I was the only one in the pool), I was able to analyze my technique more. My backstroke was a lot better. I worked on my kick being less frantic, because I need to ration my energy over a half-mile. I also worked on rotating my hips as a countermotion to extending my arms for each stroke. I worked on breathing, too.

The other day when I went swimming at the rec center early in the morning, the rest of the day I had so much energy. Interesting occurrence. I wonder if that happens every time. I also had gotten sufficient sleep the night before. Last night, I went to bed at 2AM. So.

How did I become such an old lady? I wake up stiff every morning, and the only way past it is to warm up my body with some exercise and concentrated stretching. Heat on the shoulders and neck works, too.

Today, we’re going to tackle Maine like we haven’t done before. Actually, we’ll probably do a lot of the same things we’ve done over the years. Which I love. Otherwise, we wouldn’t do them. Yay, lobster rolls! We’ll do some new things, too.

It’s so bizarre that Gustavo threatens the Gulf Coast the same weekend Katrina did four years ago, during our first Maine trip. I’m praying for those guys.