Apr 3, 2014

Part Fish

 Today I was in the pool from 1:45pm to 2:15pm. 

It was me in the 3rd lane of the pool and six very young children on the far side of the pool in a class with a teacher and six parents watching from the side of the pool sitting on metal bleachers. And yes, the lifeguard. As soon as I got in the water I immediately was at home. 

I love to swim, I love to take time to get as still and as quiet as possible and float. I like to swim underwater and see how long I can hold my breath; I love to hear the exaggerated sound of my breathing when I am swimming. And I love to watch the bubbles.   Swimming pool, river, waterfalls, lake, ocean, I love them all.   My choice is always the ocean, but I am happy in any of these water opportunities.

When I was in the pool today, it was quiet.  The children on the far side were in a get acquainted with the water class, they traveled the length of the pool hanging from the side and then they took turns jumping in the pool.  I thought of all the reasons why I am so moved and affected by water and the memories started flowing. 

While I don’t remember my time in my Mother’s womb, I am sure that is where the love affair started. How could you not love the feeling of growing from a tiny seed into a tiny little body, always floating in the safety and comfort of your Mother’s belly.  I am sure I did the backstroke a million times during those nine months.

Chagres River in Panama 

In Panama we had swimming lessons at the giant Piscina Olympica.  It was a serious swimming pool with a 3 meter board and a 10 meter board and then the tall, tall diving platform. I remember Saturday morning swim lessons and being very tired when we got home.  My left ear then, just like today always bringing home some of the pool water. Mom used to get us all in line after we got home and got changed for alcohol drops in both ears.  I do the same today.  I loved the swim lessons, it was fun and serious all at the same time and we were the only ones using the giant pool. At the end of each session I got to dive in the water from the lowest diving board and that was the coolest thing ever.

On Sundays, many Sundays of my childhood we got to visit Linda Vista, Grandpa and Grandma Arosemena’s finca and they had two pools.  We always got to swim and we had so much fun. Grandpa Rogelio would always throw coins in the pool and we all got to dive for the “caliente” as we used to call the rain of  coins.  He was such a cool Grandpa. 

Taboga Island with Grandpa Rogelio 

Grandpa Rogelio also had a tiny house at the beach in place called Gorgona.  We visited that beach many times and I went swimming in the ocean at low tide with Grandma Chichi. She told me over and over as we swam in the shallow waves, “the ocean water is the best medicine in the world, swim in the ocean as much as you can.”

My dear friend, Angelica Patterson, her family had a summer  house on Taboga Island, just an hour by boat from Panama City.  I spent many weekends and summers there. They had a balcony right over the water, at night the sound of the waves was indeed magical.   Our other dear friend, from Altos del Golf, Helen Lang, her family had a house at the Rio Mar beach and I also spent many weekends there.  I remember the sand in front of Helen’s beach house was dark grey and the waves at high tide, huge!

When we moved to the US in 1970, our first two summers family vacations where in La Jolla, California and we went to the beach everyday. My parents packed us all in the Buick station wagon with the green Coleman cooler, we all loved being at La Jolla Shores.  It was awesome. 

When we moved to the US, precisely to 404 Fenoak Dr, in Barstow, CA, we also got our very own pool in the backyard.  I remember as if it were yesterday, the pool was built  during fall, it was completed in November and my MOM let us all go swimming just one time during a very, very cold Saturday so we did not have to wait 5 or 6 months before we could swim in our very own pool.  We even had a slide.  It was awesome. When we moved to 108 College Court two years later, that house also had a pool. 

When I visited my Grandparents in Panama for 18+ years we always had access to the pools at the finca.  My first few adult vacations: Cancun, Martinique, Bahamas, water, water, water.  

My sister Ana, and her husband Parker lived on Silver Lake for several years. Those visits always included hours on the kayak and swimming in the lake. It was man made, the water very clean and very clear. Now they live in Shalimar, on the water, those visits during the summer are awesome.  Now Maddie and Morgan get to enjoy the water. 

With Maddie swimming in the ocean at Shalimar 

I have so many great memories in the water, around the water, visiting water. Today a movie reel was playing in my head and I had the best time swimming.