Growing up on Cape Breton Island, my sister and I spent many summer afternoons swimming in the Bras d’Or Lake. We had our own little stretch of beach and a diving platform that my father had built anchored a short distance from shore.
We dumped our towels on the beach and raced down to the water’s edge. My sister was always first into the water. She would stride right in and then she would be happily splashing around in the water, teasing me as I inched my way into the almost cold water. I would tiptoe in, my teeth chattering as the water inched up my sun warmed thighs, until finally I dove in. I would howl with the shock of the cold water, but quickly my body would adjust. We would swim out to the dive platform, often taking an indirect path to avoid the stinging red jellyfish.
We climbed up the ladder and laid around, drying in the sun, leaving salt deposits across our skin. I licked my arm to taste the salt and sea.
After a while, my sister cannonballed back into the water and bobbed around while I stood on the platform with my toes curled over the edge. “Oh, hurry up,” she said, as she floated on her back, toes sticking out of the water.
I stood on the platform, my body warm and loose. I didn’t really want to dive into the cold water again, but swimming was the only way to get back to the beach and back to my towel and book.
The sandy bottom was barely visible. I waited for a translucent red jelly fish to pulse past and waited even longer for the invisible tendrils to drift away.
Finally, I took a deep breath, a quick hop, arms overhead and into the air. The water whooshed over my head. I felt a cold shock wrapping around me. Which way was up? My feet touched the sandy bottom. I open my eyes to the murky blue water. It was half fresh water and half salt water, similar to the human body.
I bent my knees and pushed up. I feather kicked and my head broke the water. Sounds were muffled until I shook the water out of my ears. I pushed my hair off my face. The diving platform loomed overhead.
I did it. I took the plunge. I crawled through the water back to platform, to climb the ladder and dive in once again. The beach, the towel and the book would wait.
This is what it feels like to write a memoir too.