Leaping is just one of those things I should never do. Literally or metaphorically. But being a bad mix of a twelve-year old boy and a baby goat, I keep doing it.
I leapt backwards into jump ropes and broke my arm. And I leapt forward into men who didn't love me and broke my heart.
And then there was the leap I took into this old pool.
I was thirteen. Wearing my first bikini that I had proudly bought by myself at A&S in Brooklyn. I think it might have been turquoise.
All the teenagers I hung out with at the 14th Street Y were already in the pool. I'm not sure what the occasion was but it seemed that, other than the slanted billiard table on the first floor, we all hung out in the water. I don't think there was much swimming going on either.
I was looking for a particular boy that day. Tons of red curls exploding out of his head like a dandelion. I had been playing the advantage of the slanted billiard table all the time with him so he thought I was really cool and very Mrs. Peele-like. Here was my chance to drive that belief home.
I saw him at the shallow end, and without really thinking it through, I leapt.
A girl I was friendly with told me afterwards - meaning nobody said anything, including what must have been a very happy adolescent boy - that both my newly grown boobs were hanging out. I fixed the top and left.
I didn't walk into that Y until five years later. And even then, I didn't go near the pool.
Recently, my old knee in need of repair got a cortisone shot - just to get me through the fall before the operation. It was amazing to walk so freely that of course I quickly forgot the impatient doctor's warning. "This only stops the pain. You're still injured. No jumping about."
The fall job began with excitement and reunions. And when I saw two old friends chatting together, as only the bad mix of a twelve-year-old boy and a baby goat could be, I leapt with joy.
And my knee crumbled into searing pain.
No walking, no skipping, no hopping, no biking, no dancing around to pretty music. No nothing.
Except. Swimming. In that pool. That I hadn't entered since I was 13.
My knee was too miserable for any leaping. But, easing my way into so-called warm water, forty-two years of shame dissolved.
Swimming Swimming In A Swimming Pool* - Snapshots From Deep Water
Sunday Memories - "Not Coney. Coney Island."
The Sweet Spot: More Snapshots from Deep Waters