I can tread water like nobody’s business.
When I was a kid, spending my summers at Camp Swoneky, my cabin mates used to make a game out of timing how long I could tread in the deep end of the pool. Once, I went an hour and a half before they lost interest and quit counting.
I was quite proud of this achievement as an 11 year old.
It isn’t like swimming.
When you swim, you’re GOING somewhere. When you tread —you just…..don’t.
You just move your legs and arms, over and over, holding your position.
The longest I’ve ever tread water was at the Carlisle Swim Club.
I was in the deep end, treading, and my friend came over and sat on the edge of the pool. We started to talk, and the next thing we both knew, more than three hours had passed, and the pool was about to close.
Treading water isn’t bad when you have someone to talk to – something to keep your mind occupied.
It’s when you’re alone that it can become excruciatingly boring.
Luckily, most of the time, the nonsense that swirls around in my own head is enough to keep me thoroughly entertained while treading in the pool.
But what happens when you’re treading water in real life?
That’s what I feel like right now.
I’m just…..treading water.
Still moving all my limbs, but Not. Going. Anywhere.
I know when I’m supposed to stop treading – Jan 16th, when I go into my long-term house sit.
Then I can start swimming.
But until then, I’m just treading.
Holding my place.
There are things that occupy my mind and time most of the day.
Work. First Night.
But what of the moments when I’m not doing something?
I can’t just run myself ragged for a month.
I have to stop and sleep sometimes.
It’s in those moments that I’m acutely aware that I’m just treading water.
Treading through Christmas.
Treading through New Year’s.
And it’s in those moments that I think to myself, “Ok, enough of this. Time to go home now.”
But that isn’t an option.
Because that “home” that I want, at 102, isn’t my space anymore.
I’m homesick for something that no longer exists.
I felt this way once before , when I first went away to college. I was about halfway through my freshman year, and finals were bearing down on me. It was a Friday, and almost all of the girls in my hall of the dorm had gone home for the weekend. I wanted to go home too – but my parents had moved from my childhood home on Hasler Lane in Elmwood Place, OH, to the far-off land of Greenville, SC – a place I’d never been, and frankly, didn’t want to go.
I sat in my room and cried, coming to the realization that I was homesick for something that now existed only in my memories.
That Christmas, I went to my parent’s new house in SC, and it was just fine. I’ve become quite fond of Greenville, especially the downtown, and Hasler Lane has become just a fond memory.
And that’s great.
In time, I’m sure 102 will become just as fond a memory – fuzzy, and faded with time.
But right now,
I wanna go home.
And I can’t.
So I guess I’ll just keep treading.
I’m good at it.
Sinking isn’t an option.