Old Dog, New Tricks?

July 15th, 2008

This is me years ago, doggy paddling for dear life, trying to impress a guy I thought I was in love with, a guy I hoped would rescue me from my self and poverty and be a daddy to my three kids. I’m afraid of water and never learned to swim in Kentucky. I can float, tread water til I get bored or panicked, and of course dog paddle. But I’m not at home in the water, nor was my guy at home with domesticity. Decades pass, water flows under the bridge, my guy marries someone else, I continue to struggle around in the shallow end of the guy pool–some fun, some good and bad sex, no one I trust to save me if I go under. At some point, I guess I saved myself–from loneliness, worthlessness, hopelessness, but I still often feel that I’m doggy paddling through life. But this week I dreamed that I could swim like Flipper, like Esther Williams, like Ariel. It was lovely–just the way I always imagined fearless swimming would be. Of course there was a guy in the dream but he didn’t have a starring role and there was a bear too (go figure!), but mainly it was me swimming. I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking that I’m too old to [fill in the blanks]. Tonight a friend at work persuaded me to take a spinning class, and hanging on, keeping up, sticking it out to the end, made me feel like that swimmer in my dream and the swimmer longing for a finish line, a happy ending. Sure, my spinning was a graceless doggy paddle on dry land, a gasping, flailing, sweat-covered 40-minute ordeal, but I did it! I love the determination of the the girl I was in this photo from long ago–she wanted to make a family and by god, she was going to swim for it no matter how terrified she was of the water. I’m just starting to realize how brave she was and how much I owe her.

9 Responses to “Old Dog, New Tricks?”

  1. ida b. says:

    I love this musing, and I adore you.
    I miss you!

  2. dragonflyreflections says:

    According to a dream book I have (The Mystical, Magical, Mysterious World of Dreams by Wilda B. Tanner), a bear in your dream signifies great strength and power.

  3. patty says:

    when neck deep in the shallow end of they guy pool, I have always found that a good dose of chlorine is key for a good swim.

  4. frida says:

    Great strength and power? I want!

  5. Lindsey Beth says:

    So glad to have found Fridaville!

  6. Anonymous says:

    “I’m just starting to realize how brave she was and how much I owe her.”

    This made me want to weep. It is so generous and compassionate. It’s an invitation to embrace the essence of oneself – even if that essence has been buried (?) for too long. Thank you for this wonderful old photo and memories of who we were . . . and maybe can become once again.


  7. Mary Ann says:

    nikki, please tell me you’re working on a book because. seriously.
    writing like this needs to go inside the pages of a book.
    one i can carry to bed with me at night.
    i have one thing to say about the spinning class:

  8. Anonymous says:

    your wisdom never ceases to amaze.
    you are so special dear frida and you inspire me over and over again.
    big hug and yes indeed i feel a book is in the making.


  9. Danette says:

    what a beautiful post. the photo, the writing, the dream. i had a similar dream the other night -though it was a roller coaster on water, not swimming- and am amazed at how dreaming shows up to remind us of our essence. sending love back to ourselves in time makes me wonder about our future selves and what they might be sending us right now. maybe dreams of swimming.
    so glad i stopped in fridaville today.