Forgotten How to Swim

“Go see how deep the water is now that it’s been dredged.”

This was my first hint that this was a bad idea.

“Okay!” Sister agreed.

I didn’t really want to … but … sure, what the hey.

It was the summer of 2001. …I think. Again, this is one of those instances where I’m not really sure exactly when it happened, but I know all of [or most of] the details. My paternal grandpa had finished building a really nice dock for his boat at the family cabin. To make the water deep enough in the space where the boats go, they dredge up some of the silt/sand/clay/whatever. Grandma wanted Sister and I too see how deep it really was, by having us walk out there.

When I was a child, I had undiagnosed generalized anxiety disorder. I was like Chuckie Finster from Rugrats. If there was a chance – even the smallest, ittiest, bittiest chance – of someone even stubbing their toe, I didn’t want to do it. Safety equaled happiness.

We started walking into the water, toward the area they’d dredged.

It was early in the summer. Where the family cabin is, that means the water is freezing cold. This was another sign that I didn’t really want to do this.

Sister, of course, was having fun.

I was a couple steps behind her when all-of-a-sudden, she disappeared.

I remember thinking, “Oh, Sister just went under the water,” but instead of stopping walking, I kept right on going, and ploop! under I went as well.

We surfaced about the same time, gasping for breath because 1) we weren’t expecting to go under so suddenly, and 2) the water was cold.

So cold, in fact, that I forgot how to swim.

“I can’t swim, I can’t swim!” I yelled.

“Put your feet down,” Sister advised.

“I don’t wanna! The bottom feels icky!”

“Then swim!”

“I can’t! I forgot how!”

The conversation continued like this for a couple minutes. Finally, Sister realized there was no hope for me and she pulled me in to shore.


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