Swimming laps allows my mind will wander all over the place while I pace back and forth, counting strokes haphazardly and occasionally checking to make sure no one is trying to throw a plugged in toaster into the pool.* I discovered this meditative state by accident when I was seventeen. Sometimes I would leave the high school campus at lunch, trot down to the local pool, and put in a few laps before returning for class. Maybe once I actually cut class and swam longer – yes, I was that kind of nerd – maybe not if my mom and dad read this and get retrospectively mad. Anyway, one day early on I was down at the pool and suddenly I was reliving the entirety of Interview with a Vampire. No, I’m not kidding. There I was, paddling away, with Antonio Banderas’ voice skulkily saying, “You feel too much. So much you make me feel,” and his powder-white face right up against Brad Pitt’s. It felt as though I were in the movie too, but of course, I was merely flip-turning and freestyling.
Anyway, it’s been rare to have access to a pool on this trip – hotels without pools are notoriously cheaper than those with, and even when a chlorinated body of water is offered to me, I typically lack the time to even get in (oh, the woes of being a semi-pro online dater). So when I did recently, I splashed about with joy like a parched goldfish. And then the mind-wandering, undirected thinking began.
I was listening to a speech by a maid of honor. She was giving that whole cliche MOH, “Alicia dated a lot of guys and sometimes they were great and sometimes not, but the first time I met this one here, I knew he was a keeper.” Her voice was clear, not foggy and distant. Typical daydreams of mine don’t involve weddings, least of all my own, but here in the confinement of the water, I was momentarily placed in my own celebration.
That speech is where the subconscious space out began and ended because I came to, pausing at the wall and gasping in that anxious state that makes you want to run away from yourself with the sinking thought well, that might never happen. Which is a more irrational fear than the toaster thing.
It’s bollocks to think this way. Evidence of the contrary can be found from this trip alone, not to mention my more static life back in Oakland. So why is it so hard to a) enjoy the silly mental musings of my mind and b) not worry so much about it? Is it the fact that I’m thirty and read Bridget Jones too many times in college? Is it because other people feel this way? Is it because somewhere inside me where I hate to admit it, I really am worried about this being a reality because Dan Savage will often note that not everyone pairs off?
I started swimming again, and the MOH speech came back. I let it in, imagining all the nice things that might be said about me, the dancing and prosecco drinking that would occur, and thinking about how I can’t wait to get to give a speech at the weddings of my nearest and dearest.
*One of my most irrational fears. My brother irrationally fears a giant squid will suddenly wind up in the pool with him. ** How are we both so strangely afraid of pool-related incidents?
**And now, an image just for my brother, made by a reader: