From the Editor: Savannah Nelson
Water is attractive. Summer doesn’t feel complete without a trip to a beachy oceanfront, and an apartment can’t meet my expectations without a pool. When the first flakes of snow start drifting and temperatures plummet, I immediately wonder how expensive the nearest hot springs admission prices are, and yearn for those star-gazing hot tub nights. Perhaps the greatest injustice, however, is that I can’t swim.
Sure, I’ve spent countless hours in hotel pools, splashing my way around the four-foot zone, or wading through salty oceans with goggles and floaties meticulously attached to my body. I’ve jumped, cannon-balled, and belly flopped into an assortment of pools: my old neighbor’s, the local college’s, the indoor community’s. My parents and brothers and partner scoff at me when I say I can’t swim, and point out all the times they saw me splashing about.
It’s true—I’ve never drowned, and I always have a good time. What no one sees, though, is my panic when I swallow water, my anxiety when my arms and legs feel instantly fatigued, or how I always try to be within reaching distance of the ledge. I can’t swim, but I lust over the thrill of trying. There’s something magical about it all: almost nostalgic.
I never took swimming lessons and my family didn’t have a pool in our backyard or a boat parked in our garage. Yet water still seems to be connected wholly to my childhood, and associated with countless memories.
The anamneis can still be triggered: I remember my dad humming the theme song to Jaws underneath chlorinated hotel water as he reached for my kicking legs, and my shrieking laughter in response. There were all those times I watched The Little Mermaid on repeat with my mom, singing “Part of Your World” at the top of my lungs, then pretending the bathtub was an endless sea. And, of course, there was the time my oldest brother graduated from his Naval Basic Training, and I vowed that someday I would do the same. I promptly gave up the dream when I couldn’t manage to swim a single lap.
When I first heard about the Washed Ashore exhibit at the Denver Zoo, featured in this week’s photobooth, I felt that same rush of adventure associated with water—the thrill of swimming, the mystery of the unknown, and the fantastical imagination of mermaids. Most of all, I felt the pull toward my family. Even though they refuse to admit that I can’t swim, they’re the people who have made trying not to drown feel, to say the least, magical. I miss you guys, and hope our next vacation involves a tropical beach. Or maybe we can just meet at the zoo.