A while back, my boyfriend and I took the first trip of the summer to my apartment pool. The weather had started getting warm, but hadn’t yet hit the consistent 90 and 100 degree weather that makes you fantasize about swimming after you’ve been outside for five minutes. Eric jumped in the pool, while I made my way to the steps and began the long slow process of easing in. He laughed at me while I bounced on my tiptoes to prevent sinking belly button deep and then stirred the water with my arms until the waves went gradually higher on my torso until my bottom ribs were submerged.
“Just jump in! Get your head under,” he said. But I refused. This was my process.
Last week, he mentioned that he’d been going to Barton Springs every day, and on the other end of the phone, I shuddered. It takes me a while to adjust to the water in a pool, I’ve never managed to adjust to Barton Springs. I went with friends years ago, and I never got past mid-thigh. I hate being cold, and that water was freezing. I eventually fled from the water to the safety of the grassy shore never to return again. I used to joke that the water must be runoff from a glacier improbably located in the heart of Texas. I knew people loved it, but I was actually a little afraid of Barton Springs.
He suggested we go several times, and while I always said I was willing to go, he claimed to see the fear in my eyes and never forced the issue. Now I was torn between two things I hated: freezing my ass off and being a coward. Finally, I called his bluff. We should go swimming, I decided.
We started by riding bikes for a while to get hot and sweaty, so that cold water would seem more appealing. When we arrived at Barton Springs, Eric quickly jumped in and got acclimated before meeting up with me and walking to the end where the water is shallow and plenty of children were jumping around in the water proving that I was reluctant to do something that even 7 year olds were able to do.
Fine, whatever, I put a foot in, and immediately…that shit is cold, ya’ll. But I felt spurred on to prove that I was willing to try and that I was at least as bold as small children. Up to my calves…still cold. To my knees, which seemed to be particularly susceptible to the chill. That water can’t be more than 65 degrees. Eric walked with me, patiently respecting my process. My waist, where I start to be amazed that people don’t die of hypothermia on an hourly basis. Then, the hardest part: the nipples. After I managed that, it was cold but I knew I would make it. I fully submerged and came up more or less acclimated. I mean, sure, there were a few minutes where I couldn’t tell if I the water was freezing or burning my skin, but I did it!!
That’s what I kept saying, “I did it! I did it! Holy Shit, I’m doing it!”
We didn’t stay in the water long, but when we got out, the summer sun didn’t feel so hot. It felt like a gorgeous 75 degrees instead of a sweltering 96. On our towels, we lay back and soaked in the rays. Eric gave me a congratulatory kiss, and again, I announced, “I did it!”
“I knew you could. I just thought it would take longer and that it would be a much angrier process.”
He knows me pretty well. I’m proud to have exceeded his expectations by both moving faster and swearing less than we both probably expected.