No water, no life. No blue, no green*.

I know a place where no one ever goes
There’s peace and quiet, beauty and repose
It’s hidden in a valley beside a mountain stream
And lying there beside it
I find that I can dream.

All my life I’ve had a love affair with water. Swimming lessons and wading pools were only the beginning.

Vacations almost always included bodies of water. My grandmother’s home in North Carolina had the coldest mountain stream running past it. Hours were spent creating pools and tiny waterfalls with the rocks we found. If we went to visit her in Florida or Texas, the trip was planned around how many days could be spent at the beach. As a child I would tirelessly chase the retreating frothy waves into the ocean, excitedly running towards safety as the water would turn back and nip at my ankles.

Every summer was spent at the pool, days and days swimming, splashing, floating and diving. Stripped bare of everything but a small yet modest suit, I was me. Not confined by cliques made in the classroom, I was unafraid to ask a nearby boy or girl to play catch, tag, chicken fight or other silly game. Those early years the water was a welcome companion, buoying me when I was sad, cooling me on a hot day.

Summers between college semesters my love of water led me to lead all the aquatic activities at camp as a counselor. Soon I was a trained lifeguard and canoeing instructor. We snorkeled in the shallow end, we tried (and failed miserably) synchronized swimming. We took the older girls for a week on the river, with only our canoes, sleeping bags and food. Later I would manage a municipal pool, watching children play and splash and learn their way in the water.

After college every vacation, every free weekend, I would find my way to the water, find myself whole again. I made a pact with my boyfriend to always put our faces in a natural body of water that was presented to us. Driving across country, pit stops were planned around proximity to trails for walking, in the hopes of finding a stream. A camping trip wasn’t complete if someone wasn’t doused with bracing cold water. The ocean once again became a place to get away, to reconnect, to find calm in the face of the dramatic crashing waves.

Swimming continued to be a passion, even as its purpose changed from recreation to exercise. At first the tediousness of the laps would wear me down, feeling the inefficiency of my movements, the loss of time that could be spent doing something else.  As I became more skilled, I had to train my brain to stay. First I would distract myself with to do lists, shopping lists, replaying arguments or jokes. But then that all changed. I once again connected with the water, the freedom, the weightlessness and let go. Swimming became cathartic, it was my absolution, my cleansing, my release.

While now my connection to water is more likely to be plunging toilets, doing dishes, bathing a toddler and rushing through a shower, I still hold fast to my love. I long for the days of lounging in a warm bath. Cherish the moments with a refreshing glass of water haven’t been spent fighting off a cat or avoiding an ornery daughter’s hands. And as I sit here, typing by my child’s bath, I sing the song again:

I know a place where no one ever goes
There’s peace and quiet, beauty and repose
It’s hidden in a valley beside a mountain stream
And lying there beside it
I find that I can dream.

*quote by Sylvia Earle

Another Red Dress club post. The prompt: Water gives life. It also takes it away.  Please, your constructive criticism is more than welcome.

37 Responses to No water, no life. No blue, no green*.
  1. Sherri
    March 3, 2011 | 8:28 pm

    This, my dear, is wonderful…you took me there with you, and I could picture you doing all of the different things at different points in your life!

    Plunging toilets is the least exciting….nice job, sorry I haven’t been around here enough lately!!
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  2. Coffeypot
    March 3, 2011 | 9:03 pm

    I like to take showers…
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  3. By Word of Mouth Musings
    March 3, 2011 | 9:08 pm

    love these lines,
    buoying me when I was sad …
    find myself whole again …
    my absolution, my cleansing, my release.
    Awesomeness :)

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  4. Kelly K @ Writing with Chaos
    March 3, 2011 | 9:18 pm

    I expected snark, you gave me freedom.

    I expected laughter, you gave me appreciation.

    This was beautiful, drawing me in to your love affair with water, the place you could be yourself and unhindered by the constraints of Land Life.

    Some day, you will get to introduce your children to the love of water and see if they capture the some joy from it that you do.

    I really enjoyed this.
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  5. Morgan B.
    March 3, 2011 | 9:19 pm

    What a beautiful song! I love how you are diving into all the Red Dress prompts. It really is so brave of you! This was excellent. You keep getting better and better!

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  6. Brandon
    March 3, 2011 | 9:26 pm

    Amazing how one simple thing can mean so much and in so many ways, isn’t it? I did a lot of these same activities and can relate very well to your story. Good job! I liked it!
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  7. Lydia
    March 3, 2011 | 9:47 pm

    I love how water as an element has been carried through your life as a companion. It really can be so many things that can relate to a life lived. I really liked this.

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  8. Carrie
    March 3, 2011 | 10:35 pm

    I loved this. I can totally relate. I was such a water baby as a child. We had a pool and I was always in it, or at the community pool.

    I can’t wait for this summer. This will be the year my girls REALLY get a taste of the water :)
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  9. [email protected]
    March 3, 2011 | 10:59 pm

    I was a swimmer in high school. Your comment about laps evolving from a tedious activity into something cathartic was great. It resonated with me.
    [email protected] recently posted..Wind and WavesMy ComLuv Profile

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  10. the mrs
    March 4, 2011 | 4:26 am

    I loved this post. I’m a water girl myself. Well done!

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  11. Alexandra
    March 4, 2011 | 5:21 am

    Water does that.

    It makes me think about something I read years ago, that in Japan, many many years ago, a new widow would go walking and walking into the water.

    If she was meant to join her husband, then she would die in the water, and the water was the vehicle to carry her to him.
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  12. CDG
    March 4, 2011 | 6:27 am

    Do you know? I love your snark, you brash humor. Love.

    And then you give us a beautifully crafted piece, offering up a small part of this other you, and I can only smile.

    You are just wonderful!
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  13. Kristy
    March 4, 2011 | 7:00 am

    There is just something about water, yes. I love how you celebrate it with your words!

    http://www.pampersandpinot.com

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  14. julie gardner
    March 4, 2011 | 7:01 am

    This is absolutely beautiful. You, my friend, have skills.

    LOVE your funny. Love your nostalgic.

    LOVE. YOUR. WRITING.
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  15. julie gardner
    March 4, 2011 | 7:02 am

    p.s. also love your boobs. that is all.
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  16. Pamela
    March 4, 2011 | 7:27 am

    I love reading the unexpected from you! Love. You found serenity in water. Today it’s necessity, yesterday it was fun.
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  17. Leighann
    March 4, 2011 | 7:27 am

    I love how you started and ended with the
    Quote
    Beautifully done.

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  18. John
    March 4, 2011 | 7:46 am

    My “happy place” that I travel to when I close my eyes during a hectic day is hiking through a mountain trail, following a stream. There’s just something about a body of water that soothes.

    As I start getting more serious about an Iron Man, I’ve got to get myself into a pool regularly.
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  19. erin margolin
    March 4, 2011 | 7:47 am

    this is eloquent and 12 kinds of lovely. i took synchronized swimming when i was a wee one and somewhere we have some funny home movies of us all bumping into one another…

    i love the water too. and it made me laugh near the end how you talked about plunging toilets. i can relate!
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  20. Stacey
    March 4, 2011 | 8:12 am

    I love how it meant something different to you in each phase of your life. And even now, it’s role in your life is equivalent to the phase of life you are in.

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  21. Andrea
    March 4, 2011 | 8:25 am

    This was fantastic. I loved it. I was too tired to read it last night when I saw you tweeted the link, so I *starred* it and came back this morning and it was SO good. I totally felt the love you have. I love the water, as well. Never quite had the opportunity to do all the things you did, but I just think water of any kind envelops us in a way that strengthens us and cushions us from all else. Loved it!
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  22. Ilana @ mommyshorts
    March 4, 2011 | 10:12 am

    Wait— I was expecting swimsuit fails and banana hammocks! What happened?

    Beautifully written. I wish I could say I felt the same pull of the water. I guess my piece is less fictional than I had thought.
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  23. Shell
    March 4, 2011 | 10:49 am

    Love this! Water speaks to me. It’s my calm, happy place.

    Even though I can only swim well enough not to drown. LOL

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  24. Coolwhipmom
    March 4, 2011 | 11:15 am

    Plunging toilets is my specialty. Seems we do that at least once a day around here. Bwahahaha.

    What a beautiful piece of writing! And I love the poem you included. Gonna tweet this bad boy out to everyone!

    MIss you! xoxoxo

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  25. Natalie
    March 4, 2011 | 11:16 am

    So beautiful! My post was similar – as I also am connected to water.
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  26. angela
    March 4, 2011 | 12:01 pm

    Your connection to water is made so clear through this piece; a constant companion weaving through different phases of your life. I truly enjoyed reading it (and can relate to all of the household chores that are filled with the not-so-wonderful parts of water!)

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  27. Jackie
    March 4, 2011 | 12:29 pm

    I really enjoyed this. You really are a great writer and sometimes I never know what to expect from you…. snarky, witty, funny, full of boobs, or something that is purely you.

    Good job!
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  28. MommaKiss
    March 4, 2011 | 12:34 pm

    I have the chills, lady friend. Love this! Wanna come sit poolside this summer? Right out my back door????
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  29. Mandyland
    March 4, 2011 | 7:25 pm

    Oh this was beautiful!

    I’m so jealous of your affinity with water. I don’t know how to swim. At least very well. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who could propel themselves effortlessly across the water. Instead of splashing awkwardly in the shallows.

    Loved this.
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  30. Yuliya
    March 4, 2011 | 9:23 pm

    I thought I loved water, but I read this and realized it’s just a means to an end for me, no YOU love water. And you gave it a fitting tribute right here.

    Also? YOU plunge toilets? That’s a boy job. I’m impressed.
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  31. Renee
    March 5, 2011 | 1:37 pm

    You’ve taken this in such a different direction. I love it!
    I wish for you more streams and less plunging!
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  32. Barbara
    March 5, 2011 | 3:50 pm

    “I would find my way to the water, find myself whole again” – I really connected with the statement – well done!

    As a whole, I think was a very well written piece and demonstrated your strong connection with [email protected] Thanks for sharing!

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  33. flat stanley
    March 5, 2011 | 5:10 pm

    This is a narrative that tells Flat Stanly that you love water. Can you tell Flat Stanley a story that surrounds her, draws her into your love of water?

    Make Flat Stanley love water like you love water by painting a picture of loving, lovable water.

    An example, you ask? uhmmmmmmm, On summer nights, the slap of the water against the shore lulled me to sleep with promises of sunny tomorrows: “Come swim, come swim.” OK, not that, but something that invites the reader to share that intimacy.

    This is ONLY a suggestion — NOT a dis on your fine work. Discard as rubbish if it does not work for you.

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  34. flat stanley
    March 5, 2011 | 5:14 pm

    Woops, forgot to add, your story is full of great adventures, and FS loves the poem. It captures the idea you’re conveying, that water is rest and energy and restoration.

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  35. jaime
    March 5, 2011 | 6:08 pm

    i have my own love affair with water. When I actually get to take a vacation, I have to go somewhere near the water. It’s the only place I can actually feel completely relaxed.
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  36. Cheryl @ Mommypants
    March 5, 2011 | 8:50 pm

    I love knowing this about you, this connection.

    This was lovely.

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  37. Tracie
    March 5, 2011 | 10:22 pm

    Very beautiful.

    I don’t have the passion for water that you do…but for just a minute you had me longing for a mountain stream.
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