Float Like a Butterfly (Part 1)

I've always wanted a pool.  When I was younger, my next-door neighbors had an in-ground pool, and I almost died in it because of a not-so-friendly German Shepherd. 

Their pool wasn't fancy, meaning I don't recall it having a pool liner, any sort of pump system, a ladder or evidence of chemicals to keep the pool clean.  Instead, it was painted light blue, made simply of poured concrete, and had lots of water in it.  (Our neighbors owned a paving company and more than likely designed the pool themselves on the cheap.)

One girl lived there around my age, but she was surrounded by older brothers, and overall, the whole brood didn't care much for hanging out with me.  But I must have weaseled my way over there because I distinctly remember that there was a shallow end that you'd step into, and the slope of the pool eventually became quite deep. 

Being an only child, I was skilled at keeping my own company and often would find myself peeking through the chain link fence that separated our properties because I liked to spy on their German Shepherd, who was chained outside near their pool.  I felt bad for the dog because it didn't seem that anyone living there ever paid attention to it.  My Beagle Duke and I were like best friends, so I guess seeing this lonely German Shepherd really tugged at the heartstrings of this little girl. 

Image courtesy of Newsweek

One evening I must have gotten it into my head that I was going to slip through the opening of the chain link fence and visit my neighbor's lonely dog.  I had been told countless times never to go near the swimming pool alone because I couldn't swim, but I reasoned that the pool had nothing to do with the dog at all.  I simply wanted to visit the lonely dog and give him some much-needed affection.

It happened so fast.  I walked up to the German Shepherd to pat him, and he suddenly lunged at me.  Frightened by that unexpected response, I must have tripped backward and fallen headfirst into the pool's DEEP END

I can't recall the details of what it felt like to be almost drowning, but somehow my father came bursting over the fence and pulled me out of the deep end of that blue concrete pool.  In retrospect, my dad Joe was a fat man so hauling his girth over a chain-link fence couldn't have been easy.  But he saved my life that day, and I'm sure he also wanted to end it because I scared him half to death by my disobedience.  I was a lucky kid.  My dad never laid a hand on me in anger.  But that day, after he dragged me through the hole in the chain-link fence back into our yard, he hauled off and spanked me so hard on my wet ass that he made me cry.

After that near-death experience, there was no way we would ever have a backyard pool.  I grew up afraid of deep water and never properly learned to swim.  I started taking adult swimming lessons in the late 2000s but had to quit in the middle of my classes due to unexpected heavy periods that eventually were attributed to perimenopause.  Can you imagine being in a pool with a bunch of strangers also learning to swim when my red tide came in?

Over the years this body has thoroughly enjoyed being in a pool because I discovered I was adept at floating on my back.  I've mastered the dog paddle through sheer canine intuition.  But like a complicated woman ugly crying over her man who did her wrong, I've developed this ability to half-ass swim from point A to point B.  (I try to turn my head from side to side but exert too much aquatic concentration, ensuring my face never enters the water.  Friends, that ain't swimming, and anyone seeing me flounder about in a pool knows I'm a poser.)

This brings me to my brilliant realization that I didn't need a pool to get my float on.  I had to channel Michael Jackson, Jim Carey, and Shaquille O'Neil.  

I discovered sensory deprivation float tanks.


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