â€œGo for it,â€ she told me casually from the edge where she dangled her long legs in the water. Her toes were painted red. I adored her. "When you hit the water, hold your breath and kick you feet, and donâ€™t stop kicking.â€
I believed her entirely.
And I wanted to go down the slide so badly. I imagined its blue fiberglass hull was the back of a dolphin. Resolute, I climbed up the rungs of the ladder; up to the top.
I could see over the fence from there, into the neighborâ€™s yardâ€”I could see their turquoise pool and waterslide, and beyond it, another pool in another yard. This is what certain neighborhoods were like in L.A.: back yard pool after pool, separated by high fences or concrete walls. A patchwork of postage stamp yardsâ€”with a stitching of bougainvilleas and roses between them.
But we didn't have a pool. And we didnâ€™t live in a neighborhood like this. My dad always had a fierce attachment to having land (something I seem to have inherited), so we lived on two acres at the top of a mountain in Northridge, with a wild yard full of bamboo and prickly fruit and loquats. Instead of having pools, our neighbors kept horses.
So the whole pool thing was wildly exotic to me. A dream come true. The perfect antedote to the oven-hot of mid day. The perfect balm to scratched knees and boredom. The perfect escape.
Once Iâ€™d decided, I went for it, just like that. No second guessing. No long minutes wavering at the top. I climbed up, crossed my fingers, and slid downâ€”the speed sending me hurtling towards the water, replacing breath with giddy glee. Then I hit with a splash and sank. Down I went, and down, and down.
But I held my breath.
And I started kicking.
And suddenly I was moving up and up, towards the blue bright surface where the water and air pressed together in a thin line. Then I burst through, gulping and ecstatic. I was swimming.
I'm still like this. When I decide to go for something, I simply do. I donâ€™t waver. I donâ€™t linger at the top wondering what if?. I just jump in.
Then I hold my breath and start kicking---which is pretty much where Iâ€™m at right now with my whole job search. I went to a school today that Iâ€™d love to teach atâ€”close to home, and rich with opportunities for professional development. But itâ€™s in the most competitive district in the stateâ€”and they've received close to 200 applications for just that one position. So Iâ€™m mostly just holding my breath. And kicking.
And keeping my fingers crossed.