Victoria S. Hardy

Victoria S. Hardy

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Night Swimming

Night Swimming 

I like night swimming, I always have.  Not swimming in a pool where you know you are safe, but in rivers and lakes - at night - when it’s dark, and you’re throwing caution to the wind.  Literally, since I was at an age to have my own car I’ve always kept towels, a bathing suit, and a change of clothes in the trunk in case I felt the need to run to the beach or lake and go swimming.  Last night was one of those nights.  There was a storm brewing, but when you need a swim, you just need to swim.

This week of political agendas and facebook friends deleting each other for their opinions, and my simple attempt to claim a piece of my heritage - knowing that if we erase the past we are seconds from repeating it - made me need water, lots and lots of water. 

I have been night swimming for thirty years of my life since I left the protection of my elders, and it’s a special thing to me.  If I go to the beach for an extended time I am in the water at night, out beyond the crashing waves, swimming and floating and looking at the moon and stars, with little to no fear of creatures eating me.  

Last night, after a week of chaos, I just had to go.  Damn the storm!  Luckily, I have a husband who doesn’t actually share my need for lots and lots of water, but understands that it is part of who I am.  We drove through storms and crazily fogged roads after days of one hundred degree temps and reached the lake.  There were a few cars in the lot by the dam.  Most had bikes and were racing each other on the highway over the dam, but there was no one in the water. 

The water level in our lake is very high right now, and the beach is now part of the lake, a gentle slope down to the depths.  The paths are mostly erased and one has to work hard over the rocks to reach the water.  I left the car, and my clothes on the rocks, and struggled to reach the water - not seeing the easier path, but that is another thing that defines me.  I sank into the water, striking out, floating, and sighing away the stress and the chaos that we now call normal. 

As I lay in the water, feeling the drops of rain on my face, and listening to the thunder roll, I finally felt some peace.  I looked around at the space I was in and realized I was the only person in the water, despite the cars in the parking lot and the boats in the distance.  And then I realized that in my thirty years of night swimming, outside of organized water and pools, I’ve always done it alone. 

I swam back to shore and sat with my husband on the rocks for a moment, expressing my realization of how folks didn’t swim in lakes and rivers at night, and how it emphasized I was different and alone in my difference.  Maybe I was a little melancholy because the battles this week showed me that I am very much alone. 

God is funny and weird and good, and last night I felt Him.  As soon as the words left my mouth about being the lone night swimmer a hoard of people appeared above us, trying to discern the rocky path to the water.   Eight or so folks were there to swim at night and I realized as much as I feel alone in this world a lot of times, I’m not alone, and that is the message I took with me.  We’re not all afraid to strike out into the water as the thunder rolls above and the skies are dark. 

As they came down on our tiny beach and enjoyed the water the sky began to clear and the stars and moon came out, and although I have no idea of who they were, or their trials in life, I knew they were like me.  I only caught one name and it was a toddler named Iris, and again I knew that God was showing me that I am not alone.  You see Iris is a song by the Goo Goo Dolls that both my son and I loved and often sang together in the car on our errands before he died, and I can never hear it without thinking of him.

So as the world rages, deeper and deeper, calling accusations out to anyone, and ending friendships over opinions, I have night swimming.  I will continue to love all people no matter their color, sexual orientation, or opinions.  And last night with the thunder, lightning, and fog, I found that I was not alone as I swam in the dark.

As always, keep seeking and keep believing.  

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