“If you can overcome the fear, you have nothing to worry about. It's a matter of wanting to do it, and believing that you can...and taking the risk.”- My Dear Friend Thomas
Thomas’ words swam around in my head as I drove home from work tonight. His staunch support, mild irritation with my reluctance and gruff exterior covered bits of hope, all swishing about between my ears as I signaled the direction of my course to the sea of cars behind me, one left and right turn at a time. My route home so worn into my subconscious that I often make it to my front stoop without one shred or flicker of a bump in the road, face in a car parallel to mine, a missed or made light. Point A to point B taken so many times that my mind checks out to wander into all sorts of cavernous possibilities while my autopilot knows to slow down while making that sharp right and recognizes that there is a four minute window right before that light turns green for the folks waiting to make a left and we can “just make it”.
Not nearly as hot tonight as it has been but when I arrived home the big fan was still on the stoop, screen door open and resting upon the back of it in an effort to bring more of the cooler air from the out to our in. Did the whole obstacle course climb trying to shimmy my bloated bits past the doorway hogging fan with my backpack and box of The Wine Country acquisitions, (wine, cheeses, canned tomatoes and the tiny jars of Spanish almonds cooked in olive oil, the ones with just enough salt to convince me, at well past midnight most often, that I need one more glass of wine to wash them down. Always sexier those, “Come on, you know you want to” voices when the world outside is still and you are bumping around in your home, lonely and seeking) past the screen and whooshing fan. Dumped my box on the counter, spun around in one flourishy ballet like move that admittedly ended up looking more like a linebacker squat as I flung my backpack in its spot at the dining room table. Wasn’t in my kitchen more than forty seconds before I felt my chest expand, the heat from the 450 degree oven stifling and suffocating, my shoulders given to a deep shiver as tiny soapy scented beads of sweat began to collect and puddle around the loose fitting material around my waist.
Much like my drive home my head was busy working on my inner puzzles as my body just moved about and reacted. Opened the box of stuff I brought home, put the wine in the fridge, stocked the pantry staples and began to unwrap the cheese that needed to be scraped, (fucking hate plastic wrap and how it imparts itself on the flavor of cheese. Crazy sensitive to that so all my cheeses get a good shaving before being wrapped in Cheese Paper and stashed away in the fridge) before I grated it for the Cacio e Pepe, Cheese and Pepper Pasta that was on the menu for the evening. A plume of salty sheep’s milk cheese aroma bounced off the grater, the starchy smell of spaghetti getting just fork tender in its bath of bubbling hot water, the splash of fresh lemon juice across the top of now crispy skinned chicken thighs that were baking in the oven. My kitchen, my food, the way I do it…empowering.
An exhale so deep that I swear it came from the balls of my feet as I slipped out from the sweat inducing furnace that was my kitchen, fan peppering my lower back with cool, sweet kisses as I tugged at my work top and began to wriggle out of my jeans while walking down the hall to my bedroom. There I would pour my wet noodled self into dark grey sweat pants and one of those shamefully thin white shirts that stretch and cling to my frame in that way that would make me blush if it didn’t make me feel so goddamn sexy. My outfit for the night telling the story of my life, frumpy, wrinkled bits but mixed with plump, craveable curves, slippery skin, and vulnerability combined with a mouth, soul and mind that ache to be fondled and engaged. Walking past the mirror in my bedroom I found myself in absolute wonder about any man, any one for that matter, that would be curious about me…pulled that thin white material tight across my breasts, watched as my ribcage expanded and nipples amplified, sank my top teeth deep into my bottom lip as I felt the very powerful, and terrifying reality of being looked at and the possibility of being wanted. Sticky…I felt smugly and humiliatingly sticky. Quickly pulled the gauzy material away from my flesh, smoothed out my hair, caught my breath and headed back to the kitchen to finish dinner.
“Another pool party Sam?” my mother annoyed that my third ever birthday party, (and let me just point out I was like 10 at the time) was once again going to be spent outside by the pool. I was in the 5th grade, I had more friends than I’d ever had before, (probably like 8…woo hoo!) and my birthday was in June for fucks sake. If there was one thing worth enduring the rather horrific and humiliating existence that was living in that sullen and sadness swollen house, it was that pool. I’d snuck out to find peace and silence there, probably hundreds of times, feeling safe while floating weightless or blowing all the air from my chest and sinking to the dark and soundless bottom of that sloshy retreat while the cruelty and unrestricted abuse continued inside. I felt safe there and that was the only place I wanted my friends to be. In some weird way I thought they would be safe there too. Pool party it was, and for one of the few times in her life my mother was able to give me what I asked for, another reason to feel good about my request, no matter how much she protested.
Pool parties brought with them a number of assorted games but there were none as thrilling to me as when my mother would throw handfuls of quarters into the water. The “Plonk” sound they made as they broke the surface, their slow, swishy decent and the slightly metallic thud they made as they settled on the bottom. I would stand at the edge, toes gripping the cement so assertively that I’d surely walk away with blisters, chlorine damaged red eyes desperately trying to focus as my mother blew a whistle and pointed to everyone but me to dive deep and claim their monetary prizes. My browned from the sun arms would be folded into a pouty square in front of me as each and every one of my friends was invited to scoop up the silvery treasure at the bottom of the pool, the one I was not allowed to go after until everyone else gave up. I had just one ace in my bathing suited pocket, that deep end was anything but scary to me, it was a treasure of a different kind, one I craved more than almost anything. I’d watch my young comrades’ jump goofily into the water. Eyeball them as they plugged their noses and flapped their tiny legs trying to plunge themselves as far as they could into the deep end. Sat all pudgy but shark like as each one of them drew their soaked and tired frames from the kidney shaped pool, hands empty as they jumped on one leg to try and knock the water from their ears. I’d just sit and wait for that final whistle…hands held in a diamond shape, arms extended, toes pushing off the side and body curved into a loose U as I rushed to the bottom to claim the ungrabbed and unreachable.
“If you can overcome the fear, you have nothing to worry about. It's a matter of wanting to do it, and believing that you can...and taking the risk.” Thomas’ words once again floating amid the 500 hundred other voices bumping around inside my noggin. His voice just a little louder as it flicked at my stubbornness and fear.
Tucked the sweating bottle of San Lorenzo Il Casolare Verdicchio that was left over from dinner under my arm, slipped my key ring around my thumb and headed out to indulge in silky, still-warm-from-the-sun pool water and the very grownup treasure of glugging down crisp white wines, ones so unique and indelible that their stamp or imprint have become so woven into my memory they have begun to overwrite some of the ugly that used to plague me. The second my toes broke the glasslike surface of the still pool I knew my feet would not be the last of my bits to be….wrapped and caressed by slowly moving bands of sumptuous water.
Felt the weight of my sweat pants as they drank in the cool liquid, shivered a touch as the thin material of my shirt wrapped itself around my flesh like a wetsuit. Let the muscles in my thighs flex and pull, push and propel me through the water, my shirt billowing and constricting like a jellyfish while my body slithered about just above the bottom of the pool. Nearly all the voices and dramas in my melon silenced by the utterly captivating sound of water lapping and trickling, breaking, dripping and falling off my skin. I pulled my thick calves through the water in our pool tonight. I let myself move about in viscous liquid, a feeling so sultry and carnal I can only compare it to the way it feels when you run the tip of your tongue along the insides of your mouth….better yet, someone else’s mouth. There is no other feeling like that on the planet for me, the submission of my body into water. Tonight it made me feel strong, powerful, cold, erect, saturated, liberated, shy but flirtatious, erogenous and less afraid and once I pulled myself out of the water, the material clinging to my flesh and bones, droplets of pool water dripping down the sides of my wine glass as I drank deeply......... standing there, in my wet street clothes gulping Verdicchio and not giving a shit what anyone thought about it, empowered.
I used to practice diving into the deep, cold, water in the blackness of night. Sucked my breath in hard as the ripple of my presence skipped from my little corner of the silent pool to the expansive deep end and splashed against the curved edge of cement that stood between those loud and angry voices inside and me. Bobbed around in the relative quiet, water lapping around my neck and sucking at my ears. Fear and running from the inside used to send me there but my legs stopped shaking once I settled in, felt the caress of water as it pushed me to spend those fearful hours, not afraid but making myself stronger. A stronger swimmer, a better diver, more capable of grabbing those thin treasure coins from the bottom of the pool, fingers shriveled like golden raisins and all. The fear of those people lurking inside a hard slap to my backside that as fucked up as it might seem now, inspired me to push myself harder. Strive to give just a little more, notice every little beautiful and terrifying thing…feel each and every second of my life. For the most part, I’ve been able to do that, just turns out that every once in a while I need to drink deeply from my glass, give myself over to absolute pleasure, splash about in silky wetness, look at my body with the eyes of someone that craves me, not give a shit who might be watching and yes, sometimes I need a firm slap on the ass to get me going.