this constant certainty
I was never a strong swimmer. From as early as I can remember I was afraid of the water.
And yet …
My pop is a good man. When I was little I didn’t see him much, he was always off traveling somewhere distant. Distant and exotic with hard to pronounce names. He left my mom before I had even emerged and it was obvious to everyone I had been an accident.
Still, whenever I did see him he seemed to shine.
Maybe the near misses were my way to get his attention. Never really far enough from shore to be in any real danger but the sight of him plowing through the waves to my rescue was always something beyond a relief. I know most kids that grew up with a father who wasn’t there end up bitter and angry but I could never hold a grudge. He was who he was.
Some people weren’t cut out for one woman. One family. Quiet desperation.
Not my pop.
He belted out his discontent for all to hear. In time with the bongos he happily carried around with him, seemingly at all times. They were never far from his reach.
Like I was.
Deeper and deeper I went. My toes crawling on the bottom, trying to discern how fast the ground was falling away beneath me. My arms, useless for anything but splashing and waving and drawing attention to myself, made swimming motions so the casual observer would feel that I belonged in my aquatic surroundings. Underneath the waves my legs probed and hopped like a sluggish astronaut on the foreign terrain.
What is there to say about my mother. She was there every day so she’d become invisible. It was my pop who sat in the sky like a distant star calling to the sailor in me.
In the end I went too far out to make it back on my own. Over my head. I felt nothing underneath me and the panic started to rise. I thought about calling out to my pop. He would come, like I said, he was a good man. Maybe the fairest soul I’d ever met.
But this time was different. I was in real trouble and you know how a drowning man reacts. Wild and desperate, grabbing a hold of anyone nearby and dragging them down with them. I couldn’t do that to pops.
My mom had the police kick in the motel door the next morning and they found me.