Monday, September 14, 2009

Adventures in Water and Ubuntu

I have an irrational fear of water. Always have had.

It's odd because, aside from really good prose, there's little I find to be more breathtaking than a body of water. Still, the second I know my toes won't be able to touch the bottom, that there's any chance I'll fall in, I'm on the verge of clawing my own eyes out.

I'm not a good swimmer, perhaps this is partly to blame.

I had swim lessons when I was a child. When the final day came and we had to jump off the diving board at the deep end to show our parents our new skills, I had a meltdown. I wouldn't do it. I don't know how old I was and don't remember a thing of the lessons leading up to that point, but I remember screaming, crying, begging to not have to do it.

In fourth grade, I went home after school with a friend to swim in her pool. Outside, she ran and jumped into the middle of the pool. It was hot and I was excited, so I followed suit. Upon entering the water, my feet found bottom with my head what seemed like several feet (probably only inches) beneath the surface. Panic set in, even as I floated to the top. I don't know how I reached the edge to grab on and inch my way to shallow water. I was so embarrassed because of how I was feeling and knew somehow that I couldn't show it. I did my best to participate from the shallow end and around the sides of the pool so she wouldn't know how scared I was.

Sometime in my late teens, my best friend and I took an adult beginner swim class. I spent a bunch of my learning time in the shallow end. Toward the end of the class, I would go in the deep end but would only swim across the pool on my back, doing a backstroke. I still couldn't bring myself to jump off the diving board.

Dating an outdoorsy adrenaline junkie has really pushed my fear of water to the limit. I've been able to get over it enough to drive his jet-ski by myself at a good, safe 35 mph, 40 if I'm feeling crazy. I don't do any "tricks" that might cause me to eject myself from the safety of the warm black seat. When he drives me, it is nothing but terror and sometimes I think I may have to trick him, a non-reader, to sit in his recliner where I will strap him down and force him to read Breakfast at Tiffany's just so he knows what it feels like!

The first time he tried to teach me to waterski (he is a very patient teacher, I might add), he had me in shallow water, lifejacket on, learning to get into a starting position. This necessitated floating on my back with the skis sticking out as parallel to one another as possible while he slowly dragged me around. I couldn't do it. I could not lie there on my back floating harmlessly. Why? I have no idea! Maybe it was because I knew that this was a lesson that would lead me into deeper water. I felt like I had no control and I started crying.

Yep. For real. The first and only waterski lesson I had eventuated in crying before I even did anything.

Yesterday, I went on an annual boating trip with him and his friends. They like to get together and play on the water. I'm good with that. I can handle speed on water, like it, in fact, so long as I'm sitting safely on a boat. They tubed, smiling big as they used all of their boating skills to cause each other to fly in the air, flipping as many times as possible, smacking the water with force upon landing.

I had fun, too. I even joined them in the water as they swam. I had a lifejacket on, after all. But every single time one of them would try to convince me to go out on the tube or waterski (It'll be fun! They promise!), I would instantly feel anxious, even possessing the knowledge that I wasn't going to do it. It doesn't matter that I trusted them not to pull me the way they pulled each other. It doesn't matter that I knew I wouldn't drown with a lifejacket on or that they wouldn't let me drown anyway.

In the end, I think it only matters that I don't have control. I can't decide how much water I'm going to swallow or if I'm going to fall off.

I'm not sure I'll ever get a grip on the thing, but I kind of hope so. It would be nice to find that sort of thing fun and not terrifying.

I don't know why I hate it so much, anyhow. Where else can I piss myself in fear and have noone notice?

This got long. You'll have to hear about my impulsive install of Ubuntu and deletion of Windows later.

It'll be fun.

I promise.

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