No amount of preparation or practice gets one ready for that surprise plunge. The cold grabs your entire chest, you weren’t even aware your lungs reached into that region of your body. That cold reminds you that it will always be there in a shady corner spot or if there’s another cool spell in early August.
I grew up as a swimmer, spending my summers at the pool. When I got old enough I began to work at the pool, vacuuming it early before swim team began; teaching swim lessons all day, reminding small children to relax their bodies and trust me as they lay back and got water in their ears. The trust that was provided for me as a swimmer, as a lifeguard, and as a swim instructor was not something I took lightly. I knew that the water was dangerous and could swallow us all whole.
The summer I was 10, as I walked across the pool in my uncle’s backyard, the slick plastic bottom was so nice upon my feet, it was unlike the pool in my neighborhood which had a concrete bottom and often had rocks or sand that scratched my soles. I wasn’t paying attention to the pool and the bottom all looked the same, again different from what I was used to, where there were ropes to signal depth changes. As I walked noticing the warm sun upon my not yet wet head, I was quickly swallowed by the water. No one noticed until I jumped from the bottom and grabbed the side of the pool sputtering and coughing.
Every summer I read and listen and spend time in communities of people that push me, that teach me, that love me hard. And then the cold grabs me, the depth grabs me reminding me of who is in charge.