|My fear of drowning
||[Jul. 16th, 2004|11:15 pm]
There are all sorts of ways that I don't want to die, but drowning is near the top of the list. When I was in college I attempted to get scuba certified but, despite being a strong swimmer, I could not handle the getting-into-snorkel-gear at depth. I got terrified every time, so never got to the next class where we would actually get, like Oxygen while we were sitting on the bottom. Oh, I could do it in 5 feet of water, but not at 10.
It was all the fault of some guy I didn't even know.
When I was a kid we would go to the Oregon Coast and stay in small hotels with indoor pools. (The Oregon Coast is a really wonderful place to visit if you like to watch crashing waves and storms, not so hot for actual swimming.) I was about 10 years old on this particular trip, and my brother and I had been practicing swimming the full length of the pool under water. It was a big pool, and I had only just succeeded the day before. Excited to try again, I hopped in took a deep breath, and dove beneath the surface.
My lungs were hot and painful when I reached the deep end and touched the light. I shot up, broke the surface, gulped for air.
And was shoved beneath the water by a strong, adult hand. I sucked water into my lungs and flailed, panicking. I pushed upward, my eyes breaking out, my nose.
He pushed me beneath again. I realized that a complete stranger was trying to drown me. I fought against him with the last of my strength, but I had already breathed a good deal of chlorinated water into my lungs. I knew I was going to die. I had no fight left. I went limp.
He dragged me to the surface and threw me out onto the deck, leaping out of the water to perform CPR. I coughed and choked and vomited pool water. My dad - who had missed the whole thing - came running.
"I'm sorry!" I heard the stranger's shakey voice. "I thought it was one of my sons roughhousing with me."
His sons were strapping highschoolers. I had very short hair at the time, but I didn't look like a 6 foot basketball player. I still don't know what he was thinking. But he seemed sincere, and for the rest of the weekend kept buying me sodas out of the machine. I imagine he was worried we'd sue.
At the bottom of the pool in college, the memory of that incident kept coming back to me. I hate being scared of things, and try to bull my way through my fears. I couldn't make it through that one. And have never been scuba diving.