When my youngest brother was a toddler, he managed to fall into a swimming pool, diapers and all, and sink straight to the bottom where he sat (he claims today) eyes open wide, gazing around while he waited for our oldest brother to jump in and pull him out. (Which he did.)
Possibly, knowing Paul, while he was waiting he continued calmly pondering on with whatever deep philosophical problem he’d been preoccupied with when he tumbled in.
Leaving aside for now the question of why the grown-ups–our parents and the friend who owned the pool–didn’t notice, it’s the image of Paul at the bottom of the pool I want to talk about.
Because that’s me and always has been. Sitting at the bottom of the pool, in over my head, at times waiting not-so-patiently to be pulled out because I don’t have the life skills to rescue myself.
(The grownups–yes, those two–were too preoccupied with their own insanities to have taught those.)
Yet time after time, I did figure out a way to get myself afloat again. No matter which deep pool clueless-me got tossed into. And I was usually fairly clueless, indeed. I learned I was leaving Tennessee at fifteen to go north to Exeter, for instance, when I came home from swimming (seems to be a theme here) and found an admissions rep in our living room. I sat on the piano bench, still in my wet swimsuit, and answered his questions without a clue what it was I was getting into. It’s a boarding school, I told my friends, like where girls go to learn to ride and dance. Which is what I’d gleaned from reading various British girls’ books.
But I figured out how to survive there, even to thrive.
A scenario repeated again and again.
So why so hard this time around to figure out how to navigate the deep waters of empty nest (to wildly mix metaphors) and ended (homeschooling) career?
Maybe because we’re less resilient with age? Maybe something to do with the peculiar situation of living in such isolation in our remote mountain cove? Or maybe I just haven’t been trying hard enough?
It doesn’t actually matter why. The point is I’ve got to figure out how better to push off the bottom.
Because big brothers aren’t usually around to pull us out.