When I was 7 or 8 or 10 I was a champion water-treader. I was never graceful with the breast stroke or the butterfly and I can only imagine the site of my knock-kneed, stiff-backed dive, but I could tread water like no other.
At the end of class we would march single file on the slippery floor to the deep end. Once we climbed in, the timer would tick away, urging us to tread until we couldn’t tread anymore. I was almost always the last one in the water. It made me forget about how not good I was at the rest of the class.
It is August.
I have no calendar hanging on the wall and I push away from the date when it finds its way in front of me, but I know. I know that it is five years since my first contractions, five years since I counted ceiling tiles in my hospital room, five years since life started spiraling downward, the beginning of all the Five Years Since that drown my mind until I make it to October, the beginning and the end of dreams stroked softly.
As dates burn my eyes and muffle the sound in my ears, and time weighs down my steps and tries to take me back to familiar places I had drifted away from, I wonder if I am still treading. If I will ever stop.
And if I’m only good at treading because I can’t sink
and I’ll never be able to just swim.
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