‘We are water people,’ my
brother explained to the anxious lifeguard cautioning us about undertow as we
splashed in the edge of the surf of the Andaman Sea. I had no idea what he
meant. I lingered on the we-ness
brother was always at least a step ahead of me.
Water: Quixotic. Defining
its own boundaries. Fast-running water in the I ching means both danger and
opportunity. Fall Creek was our playground as kids and it provided both
opportunity and danger. The pond where we skated as kids back when winters were
cold enough for skating outside. The pool in the backyard, filled-in limestone
quarries and the gravel pits pock marking Indiana. Finally growing into the
abyss off the reef protecting the northern edge of Grand Cayman. Water was
never far from our best selves.
I am at a conference of
writers. I should be at a workshop or networking or something earnest. Instead
I am in the pool. Blissfully nearly empty. I swim a bit and think a bit and for
no particular reason do the rapid fire up and down simulating dolphins to get
from one side of the pool to the other. I might have walked, or done a lady
like breast stroke. My brother made me do it. We used to practice those rapid
up and down moves in our own small pool or the pool at the house in Cayman. I
put myself safely in the middle of the pool and did a somersault—lopsided and
more demanding on my lungs than it used to be—but a somersault nonetheless. My
brother did it in scuba gear along the wall in view of the anemones and the
purple vase sponges. It is harder to do than you might imagine. It was some
time before I tried it, but I had to try. My brother made me do it.
If he were here now, I’d
tell him I understand what he meant. He would be unimpressed that I got it at
last. For him it was so obvious that he could not imagine that I would not have
understood, but he wouldn’t have minded either. He liked being one step ahead
of me—it was his birthright.