December 27, 2014, I have made one of the best and worst decision of my life.
I was on a vacation. I was supposed to be happy.
It was late at night when I decided I should go for a swim in the pool in front of the cabin I was staying at. The temperature was freezing so I opted to pull on my rash guard on top of the swimsuit I already had on. Hypothermia is never appealing nor is it the way I want to go.
So, I checked out my surroundings, there weren’t any people occupying the nearby cabins and the pool was surrounded by trees, very minimal light from nearby posts and the light outside of my cabin illuminated it. Carefully, i trekked my way down a few strategically placed steps on the slope leading to the pool area.
I tried to make out my surrounding and thinking maybe this wasn’t the best decision I’ve made because something might happen to me and no one would know. But the other part of my brain, the one I kept suppressed, kept telling me to just do something spontaneous for once. So, you could say, the reckless side of me won over. I checked for the depth markings at the side of the pool where it’s shallow, about 3 feet, and decided to jump right in.
HOLY FROZEN HELL! I do not want to die of hypothermia!
I jumped right back on to the side of the pool and the responsible side of my brain did a subtle ‘I Told You So’ dance while I literally danced around (or jumped like stupid) cursing the world. Not one to give up easily (at that moment at least) I dipped my toe in the water and yep, it was freezing but probably bearable. I thought this’ll be a good story to tell my 2 dozen cats when I’m 50.
Carefully, I lowered my already wet legs back into the pool slowly, breathing like a pregnant woman about to undergo water birth without an epidural. The rush of cold water soaking me was exhilarating. As I went deeper into the pool, I realised the water seeping through my rashie was accompanied by adrenaline. I got braver and braver until I reached the 10 feet marker.
I’m no Olympic swimmer. I practically cheated my way through swimming class in grade school. But I can float like a dead leaf so I did that.
I stuck my arms out, carefully moving them as if I was making a snow angel in water. I had my eyes closed as I slowly drifted around the pool. The water was still freezing, the harsh night wind was cutting through my skin.
It was torture, I know, but also serene. Calm. How many of these moments will I have? The world around me is chaotic and the inside of my head was in a state of turmoil. The water was lulling me into this calm state and my mind was slowly blanking.
It was suddenly eerily quiet. Then it started to rain. I opened my eyes, listening to the symphony of the water lapping at my ears, the sound of leaves rustling, the wind howling, and the silent patter of rain. I tried to look around as much as I could afford while floating in water. It was dark, but I could see rain clouds beyond the outline of pine trees. A few stars peeked through the fast moving clouds that were a surprisingly light shade of grey and I could see a few bats flying overhead.
It rained harder and I was overcome with an intense feeling of melancholy. I was trying to get over someone but I kept having this feeling where this adventure would be so much better if that person were with me at that moment. How jumping into the freezing water would have been funnier if someone was there to witness it and laughed along with me until our laughters turned into wheezing.
At the realisation, I started to cry. My sobs just an undertone to the orchestra of nature, and my tears danced with the rain. Floating in the water was suddenly impossible. I have never felt so morose than I did at that moment. Everything I was going through, the realisation that my life was shit came to me all at once. I cried like I never cried before. Not in the sense where it hurts. It was like, I was crying but there’s a hollow part in my chest where my heart used to be and my mind just tells me that I’m shedding tears because it hurts but it doesn’t really, crying became an automatic response to a phantom feeling. It was being numb even to your own pain.
I submerged my whole body in the water and just started punching and screaming and I’m suddenly frustrated beyond belief.
My lungs were already screaming for air but I stayed under water for as long as my body could hold. I stilled and opened my eyes, by that time, I was already numb and my fingers and toes were pruning. The freezing water did nothing to me. The chlorine in the water was a welcome sting to my eyes. In that moment, I made a decision – when I come up for air, my first breath belonged to me. I wasn’t breathing for anyone else anymore. I was living for me.
Slowly, I came up for air. I will never ever forget that first rush of air into my lungs. I will never forget that moment where I realised the water was freezing, or that the temperature probably dropped to 8 °C, nor the wind trying to cut my skin raw. I was alive. If I had taken my life 2 years prior I would never have felt this feeling of renewed hope. For the first time in a long time, I felt grateful to be alive.
(this whole time I was writing this, I had Ludovico Einaudi’s Divenire playing in the background. it wasn’t my intention to write this evening, but I started to, and then I kept going, so his album is the soundtrack to this post. every song was so fitting to everything I was writing it felt surreal and I didn’t realise it was hapening until I was into track 8. Oltremare. please give Divenire a listen.)
[Svanire is playing at this moment]
*this is real life. so is the accompanying image. i look back at that moment and I realise how much funnier things were, how painful it was to look at myself from that time in my life but also bittersweet.
PS. After realising I was ready to post this, fireworks started going off nearby and it was a light show outside my window. Okay, wrapping it up now.