I am starting to see a pattern: when I want to write something lovely, I think of an old memory. A glimpse of the past flashes through my mind, and I want to bring it back to life. Reliving these beautiful memories brings me peace when I’m dealing with anxiety. Sometimes I just need to rest my mind, give it something soothing to land on. I share it with you so you can feel it too, because that’s what it is more than anything- a remembered feeling, an overwhelming sensation that draws me in. And just like that- I’m ten again.
Although this title probably brings to mind a country song with reckless teens stripping down in a creek, this memory transports me to a time of innocence.
I grew up on a lovely property out in the country in Georgia, where I rambled through the fields and woods barefoot like a little Indian. I’m immune to poison ivy, mosquitos don’t like me, and my skin stays chilly to the touch in 100 degree weather. I made the perfect farm girl.
We had a swimming pool surrounded by a latticed brick wall. I loved to perch up on top of the brick columns like a cat, which would dry me out in a flash after swimming. My brother Buddy made it his tradition to jump in on New Year’s Day each year. I didn’t do cold swimming, so I never participated. But for two thirds of the year, we were in the pool.
At ten years old, there was nothing more magical to me than night swimming. I donned my goggles and slipped into a sparkling new dimension. Light bounced around the pool in little rainbows. The colors shifted as the water moved, and I chased the rainbows around the bottom of the pool.
I could hold my breath for a long time, maybe two minutes, so I would stay at the bottom with my palms on the slick liner, trying to catch the fragmented light. I knew it wasn’t catchable, but it painted my hands and arms, and I became dancing water too.
Slowly I floated belly up towards the inky sky. I let out my breath as I broke the surface, and a giant bubble popped around my face. The summer air hardly felt different than the warm pool water, and I felt peaceful. Content. Relaxed. Laughter and music touched my ears.
I floated on my back with arms spread wide, gazing at the stars sprinkled across the sky. It was darker out in the country. I could see the Milky Way and several constellations. I took another breath and then sunk back into my wonderland.
No thoughts crossed my mind except one: I am a mermaid.
What strikes me about this memory, even more than the beauty and the warmth, is that I was so in the present moment. No worries tried to barge in, no thoughts of other events or words said, only water. Light. Stars. Sky. Mermaid.
Do you have a memory that comforts you? Have you ever created a “safe place” to help with anxiety?