Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Loaded up another boat and sent it back out on the lake. I've known this boat for many, many years; actually since the first. Always been one of my very favorite boats, maybe even my favorite. Been on stormy waters for more than several years now, beat up pretty bad, this one has, so I was a surprised but really, really happy to see it tie up at my dock couple of months ago, scruffy and worn but still very handsome and sturdy. I gave it the best stuff I had, but not completely sure of what had gone on and where the new journey would go, I could only guess at what inventory to lay in, what supplies to use to line the shelves, what stock would be needed. Saw 'im chugging away on Monday, steady low throttle. Gotta be all good. Some transitions are not lightning nor laser fast but discernible in only a nano-second. This time I saw it. Which makes me think about how ignorance is bliss. Bob Seger: "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then."

So these people I know are having a social event of sorts and invited me. I was quite glad to be included. For reason of a strictly personal nature, I won't be going. But it's got me to thinking about why I separate myself from things that I really, really enjoy. Because I do that, if rather frequently, rather regularly.

A classmate of mine from back in the day has been cranky with me for 39 years or so--we also go back to just about the very beginning. This guy does not approve of me nor do I, wait for it, meet his expectations. There's a reoccurring theme! But because I bring out the absolute worst in this guy and he is sure to go off on me for something I did or didn't do, after all this time, I have stayed away and continue to stay away from most of my hometown friends. Just seems more friendly that way; I'd feel bad if our old friends had to witness how ugly he can be. Because he's pretty damn ugly. And chooses me to be his personal witness. I'd also be lying if I didn't admit to be tired and a little resentful of my particular job description in being Mr. All American's punching bag. I'm weary. I don't choose pain. All in all, it forms a beautiful, treacherous reef of separation and isolation.

Another thing I have loved since I was quite small is the lake. The people of my birth family are particular devotees of the river, so we didn't spend much time on the lake as a child but I love the lake. love it. Walked along the north shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene practically every night of my adolescence, stars and snow alike, and when I went to college in the wheat fields down the road, my big secret was that the one and only thing I missed about home was the lake. After college, I moved to the third leg of the triangle where my life was at the club and on the course, both which came with pools. I became a pool person. That's what my life was and as incredible as it now seems, all three of my children learned to swim in pools. Might be a good time to take them back and get them re-certified. Can you really swim if all you know is pool swimming?

Now I live in a home with a very nice swimming pool that I never, ever, read that no, not once, use. Why do I separate myself from the things that I really like? Part of it is the people around me, part of it is that I would much rather walk around pain than walk through it. Having my Inner Gladiator on alert 24/7 makes me so weary. So very weary. So separation, then, ends up being only the best I can do.

I am going to try to relieve myself from separation; abandon my monastic instincts and practices for a few moments. A few soon moments. I will swim, swim!, in Lake Coeur d'Alene on my birthday, just as I did as a little kid. And recall and celebrate my American Red Cross swimming lessons on Lake Coeur d'Alene. And I will summarily throw caution to the wind and see if I can't join people who are barbecuing and drinking beer before the year's end. Gotta try it and dodge it no more.

And every morning, I will go down and sit on the dock, with a good book and my dogs, and watch the horizon and wait for a glimpse of that handsome, sturdy boat that I have known and loved for so long--surely now sailing on a smoother, straight course to unparalleled achievement and expression.

~for Joe Nathan, aloha nui loa

The 'Kan EWA


toadman said...

"Now I live in a home with a very nice swimming pool that I never, ever, read that no, not once, use."

I've been looking for a facility in which to teach my boys to swim. A facility with beautiful landscaping all around, instead of concrete block.

Just kidding...well.. sort of.


I tend to keep people from my past at a certain distance as well...I understand that sort of thing very well.

Kerri Rankin Thoreson said...

I'm a people from your past who very much enjoys you in the present. For shame not to use that beautiful pool. I'm not a splashing snob. Love water. In a pool, in a lake, in a river, in the NW. You can keep those swampy, murky bodies of water in other parts of the country.
Here's the deal. You will meet me in the middle at one of my new favorite swimming holes on the Spokane River where we will frolic with abandon that only womanly women like us can muster. We'll think of nothing or no one but those glory days of our youth that we now accept weren't so glorious. You are my friend and I hope I'm yours. Come splash with me and I promise not to dunk you or lure you into the deep end. :)

green libertarian said...


"Can you really swim if all you know is pool swimming?"

No, a THOUSAND TIMES no, and you KNOW this!


I learned to swim in the YMCA pool downtown, at maybe 2nd grade, naked of course that's how they did it. It was winter, and all the 10, nee, 13,000 lakes in MN were frozen, some of them solid.

Flash next a couple of years later to swimming in the Pacific Ocean, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna, Malibu, where mostly it's mellow, but the fun thing to go is when there's a storm off the Baja, and you can raft-surf and get clobbered by a 17 ft. wave that gives you a wonderfully exciting ride and then pounds you down with the force of a zillion tons of water, holding you under until you are sure you are drowned.

I'm sure the lifeguard breathed a sigh of relief when my beaten, near drowned body emerged from the surf, and I crawled to the shore and collapsed. Where's my surf-raft, no idea.

Later we had a backyard cement pond, of course, on account of me and siblings begging and begging every time we drove back to MN thru the deserts of Hiway 66, that we HAD to have a motel with a pool, while Dad was more concerned that the onsite restaraunt had a full bar, well to each his own. Have a drink or two dad, thanks, we're going swimming in the Best Western pool and will try and drown each other, just for funsies.

Since getting the clap, or whatever it was at Bear Lake (itchy!), I tend to stay out of the lakes 'round here, tho Priest, CdA and Ponderay (fonetic spelling) are quite fine for swimming, took the sis and fam to Farragut a few years ago.

I do stay close to the water, in the Old Town Discover 16.9 canoe. Refreshing, yet safe, even for splashing.

inlandempiregirl said...

This won't surprise you at all but my life history runs through lakes also... never the river. We had a fear of the river and the current thanks to Dad. Perhaps Camp Neewahlu reminds us both of that lake we love. If I were to give your post to my students I would ask them what they would infer in your words. What is important here is what is not said in this post. We do always return to water, don't we? I love the symbolism of the boat and what that represents.

JBelle said...

Thank you for your comments; there was a lot going on when I wrote this and it probably comes as no compensation to you, but I felt much better after I wrote it. :) I appreciate, very much, the density of your responses, all, and out of respect and courtesy, would not usually respond to signal that I realize The Talking Stick has passed...

But you move me and I wanted to tell you that. Thank you.

JBelle said...

Toad: You Green Weenie:

The facility here at Bellemaison hosted both The Christ Child's near drowning accident sending him to Scarred Heart ICU for two weeks and his private swimming lessons that allowed him to make his rank and ultimate end up as a Silver Palm Eagle Scout, the very highest honor a Scout can earn. I am going to make friends with this pool in July, after all this time. Maybe then I can invite friends in. :)

JBelle said...


You are my friend, a hundred, no a thousand! times over, and I love you. As for dunking, who here grew up with 3 brothers who mercilessly teased and taunted her? You think you gotta dunk that would make me cry? I doubt it.

As for the deep end: that's where I like to play and you know it.

To good beer, good barbecue, all the good restaurants of North Idaho and to us: how in the world did we make it this far looking this good?

JBelle said...

gLib, whom I claim as my own:

Thank you for letting me share my learnings re that one school on the north 40 of the river. We had such a fraternity of good experiences there and I wanted you to be in our frat, too. :) I will be at Baccalaureate Mass when the time comes. Kleenex factory gonna have to work double shifts week before to keep us outta need. It's all pretty much good, except when it isn't and as it ends up, that's good too.

THANK YOU for confirming my distinction between real swimming and poser swimming.

Having said that, my brother and I became nagging banshees a full month before our annual trip to California to see my grandmother to make sure we were staying at that one place in Bend, Oregon that had *the best* swimming pool. Those days, you didn't make reservations and after we woke up in Moses Lake, we started fretting that they were gonna be full before we pulled in usually at about 3. God, that was the best, that motel in Bend. I wonder if it's still there....

MarmiteToasty said...

Truely tiz a different world :)


green libertarian said...

I know you'll be there, JBelle.

I know.
I know.
I know.

Who woulda figured she and he would be Junior Prom Queen and King?

I'll be there too. If I'm alive.

It will be good to see you again.