My younger two kids prevailed upon me once again and we went to the local swimming pool on Tuesday evening. I talked myself into joining them in the water; afterall, swimming is supposed to be good exercise, and I used to like spending time in “the pool” when I was a kid. As a matter of fact, I used to be able to do a front flip off of the diving board. So, of course I thought nothing of doing a straightforward dive off of the board. I followed Marsden into the water, ignoring a searing pain eminating from my left big toe as I left the board. It wasn’t until I was trying to help Ida get warm by the side of the pool a few minutes later, that I noticed the trail of blood I was leaving at the pool’s edge. I looked at the bottom of my toe. It seemed to now have a hole in it. What happened? Is it the forty extra pounds of weight since I was 14 and used to do this with ease? Was there a nail on the end of the diving board? Is it the ancient quality of the dried and calloused skin on my feet that can’t sustain the pressure of jumping from a diving board?
A second family arrived at the pool. I sat with Ida, my foot elevated as I tried to stop the bleeding, and watched a teenage girl do the most beautiful swimming I have ever seen. As she propelled effortlessly through the water, seeming to move at great speed, she caressed the water with a reaching action that involved rythmically turning her wrists at each stroke. I liked thinking how, once she was dressed and out of the water, one would never know about her sensuous strength as a swimmer…she would appear to be just another normal teenager.