Letter H is for the high of adrenaline.
A to Z entries: My post for each letter of the alphabet will be anecdotes or musings based on an element from the previous letter’s post. Names always changed, events always real.
~ Letter G was for Google search terms like Geisha Silver Porn, or even snowboarding, an activity not without its addictive…high. ~
I’m a city girl. Athleticism and outdoorsmanship were not encouraged in me.
“H, you’re so feminine, I bet you drink from teacups holding out your pinky!” Mocked my sixth-grade friends in New York as we walked to the park, because a squeal of delight had escaped from me at a cluster of birds.
Apparently liking birds was uncool. So was being “feminine.”
It seemed I was the only one who saw myself as tough and boyish. I was the second to last to be picked in ball games, right before the body-brace kid.
The situation was even more dire when it came to swimming. I didn’t know how. At the age of thirteen, it was time to take the matter into my own hands.
As I was about to throw myself into the deep end of a pool, I called out to the adult on standby:
“Come save me if I drown. I’m trusting you!” He nodded. He had been a family friend ever since I could remember.
I’d been around the ocean and pools every summer since I was born, yet everyone including myself, had been content to let me dawdle around all manners of water with kiddie floaties even at the ages of ten and eleven. I was embarrassed at myself. I wasn’t going to embark on teenagehood and not know how to swim!
So I threw myself in. And sure enough, I resurfaced and started doggy paddling.
It was annoyingly simple. But the annoyance at missing out on all those years of swimming was dwarfed by my smugness for finally tackling the deep end, unaided.
“I kicked it in the balls! I kicked it in the balls!” I marched and chanted once I got out of the pool. I figured the family friend could handle hearing “balls” from me now that I was thirteen.
Underneath whatever “delicate” or feminine mannerisms I had, I was built toned and strong even as a kid, and had a lot of intensity that would’ve done well channeled into sports. But I wouldn’t learn this until I moved to California as an adult.
Early after my move, I got on some sort of a board in Malibu. A boogie board. The Pacific was choppy enough as it was, but this day was particularly violent with wind. The sky and sea were ash and pewter. No one was in the water except a few guys from our mixed group, and me. I figured if they could do it, I could do it.
This reasoning had failed me before in Central Park in New York, where boys, including my brother, set up a ramp over a garbage can and skated over it for a jump. If my kid bother could do it, I could do it, I thought. So I had waited my turn, skated up the ramp, flew in the air, and landed right on my tailbone. I was not a good skater. I looked up to find all the skaters staring at me like I was either ridiculous or admirable.
Jackass or badass.
Years later, during the stormish day in Malibu, I was thrown around by the ocean. Pounded, really. It wasn’t a success, whatever I was supposed to manage with that board, but it never occurred to me to give up. I stayed in even after the guys started leaving the water. Wave after wave crumbled over me, great walls of menace catapulting me below for as long as they pleased, force-feeding me saltwater. I’d come up for maybe thirty seconds, then another would crash over my head. The last guy left the water when it began to rain. The sea was black. It swirled against my body with harsh bits of sand. Fighting its force and making my way back to shore was a struggle. I was only slightly improved from that doggy-paddling late-swimmer, so I kept underwater to evade the savagery of the waves.
When I finally made it out of the water, my bikini needed adjusting back to the places it was meant to cover before I was jostled around. I was a shivering mess of goose pimples, runny-nose and salt-entangled hair. My ribs were scratched and speckling blood. But my eyes were wide with excitement. My physical discomfort was something faint and obscure in the back of my mind. Instead, I was hyper-aware of my wide, uncontrollable grin.
The boys were looking at me with the same “jackass or badass” look of awe; the girls were wrapped in sweaters and not looking at me.
I was born to do this stuff, I thought.
I had gotten a taste of adrenaline. And it was tastier than most things in life.
~ Part of the A to Z Challenge ~
A post a day except Sunday for the month of April to cover topics beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
Cathartic Monkeyism returns in May.
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