Throughout my growing-up years in Birmingham, my mother and I made up headlines and titles about the world around us. At Little Hardware, at a traffic light, passing a man standing on the corner, hearing a snippet of conversation, we announced what we heard and saw, at least to one another. We were great watchers of life, my mother and I. We lived outside of Southern culture for the most part due to our Yankee heritage and temperament but we witnessed and named. Although I was unsure of much of life's strategy, I was and am a title writer par excellence.
Plus, I float with ease. I am well-practiced. After all, I was born swimming. That's what mother said. "You were always a fish," she said. "You swam before you could walk."
And oh yes, I can swim and float like nobody's business. Not in the competitive sense of it, between lines in pools or on teams. Attempts were made, I assure you. But I could not understand why I should learn the breast stroke when I could swim underwater for long, beautiful lengths. I tested myself, from beneath the surface, going farther and farther, going as far as I could before my lungs exploded and drove me to the top. Once above the water I rested by floating, the clouds on my belly or so it seemed. Then back to play, to plunge and roll and splash without any need or want, deeper than happiness, an inner gate open.
Freed of the rules of dry land, a body stretches as space and direction unfold. All the while the water cradles and strokes, streams and whispers. A moment is a current, and the present is a wave. From beneath the surface, I flap my arms and look to the sky. I blow bubbles that rise and float, then disappear.