The emotional amnesia of entering a pool doesn't mean I don't remember. It just means I don't know what it is I am remembering. Sort of like Nixon's famous 18 minutes or Florence knowing who I am but not knowing she's my mother, something essential disappeared from reality.
So it is still a mystery as to what possessed me to take my then less than two but not much more than one year old nephew, Baby Boy and dunk him into a swim class called Tadpoles for Tots (or some other God awful moniker to frilly up the fact a bunch of adults were going to forcibly plunge small barely verbal little itty-bitties into cold water and then coo at them as the kids went psychotic.)
Perhaps I was attempting to recover my lost youth through this non-Christian baptism or perhaps I was just trying to recover. Whatever it was this missing, a vacuum a dead spot in my internal universe, regardless every Saturday I traveled the errant 1, 2, or 3 to the Upper West Side to collect the unsuspecting trusting adoring nephew and then bring him down to baby hell at the 68th street Y.
Old wooden benches banged up rusted lockers and trying to figure out where to put down a fat baby without stepping on him, dragging up against unwilling flesh my swimsuit then his over a diaper that would weigh as much as him once it got saturated and finally stepping into that ancient box of clanging tiles, echoes and an old pool filled mostly with kiddie pee.
I cooed and cooed and cooed "oh here we are in the nice water..." and he screamed and screamed and screamed in baby language "GET ME OUT OF HERE YOU FUCKING WITCH YOU BETRAYER OF ALL GOOD YOU DECEITFUL HORROR SHOW I THOUGHT WE WERE RELATED."
Truly the scarring moment that 18 years later still crumbles my heart is when his mother stopped by to see the class and said toddler, making Christ look like a geriatric sloth, propelled himself screaming sobbing in a bee-line across the pool to her, begging her in every wail he could to "please Mommy please" care for him enough as her son and rescue him away from all this.
What was it that suddenly became different .... another freezing wet miserable moment and we gave him a play phone (he skipped the cars and trucks and went straight to the office equipment) I started cooing "scoop scoop scoop" cupping his hands with the phone and moving them through the water... "scoop scoop scoop" and Baby Boy oh like a delicious cake bloomed a delicious sweet smile and without any of us expecting a miracle cooed back to us "scoop scoop scoop" and even thought I still couldn't remember my own lost world Baby Boy began to swim.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.