But to be honest, my origin story was not so fantastical. Sure I came out into the world wet, but not because I was born swimming. That was something conjured after watching my second cousins at their high school swim practice. I had stepped into the pool thinking it would be like breathing, despite my mother’s warning, and was rescued soon enough after.
No, I was born in a community hospital like most, and I was born in blood because my mother tore when she was ready for it all to be over with. Perhaps it’s more honest to say most of us were born out of the cursed Nile. Ironically, Moses himself came from the water, and it was cursed through his hand. The river turned to blood, offered its plague, while the Red Sea was parted. His God was certainly a God of the waters–how frantic the Egyptians must have been, they had thought the same thing. Should they rethink their origin story as well?
After I learned to swim, I couldn’t be kept out of the water. My Grandma Bradford used to say I was a little dolphin as I would dive around in the backyard pool of her old house. The designation pleased me; it was why I liked to fit a diving ring over my ankles so I would have to kick with my legs together. I was always a dolphin, never a siren.
They tried to put me on a ship twice in elementary school. The first time I threw up before boarding a clipper ship, in the bus ride to the Sacramento harbor. The second time I threw up after boarding a whale-watcher boat, as we were sailing into a swell unrestrained by the bay. I was disturbed by the intensity of my seasickness. I was always a dolphin, never a siren, and I learned I was not a salty sailor’s dog, either.
An audio book of Dickens’ Bleak House played from laptop speakers while I spent an afternoon slathering primer over the masonite. A cheap three-inch painter’s brush for three even coats. Butcher paper protecting the wood deck from the thickened paint. Some little black bugs with translucent wings unfortunately found themselves mired in the sticky whiteness. When the sun had set over the forested mountains, I left the board to dry during dinner. I came back later to finish the last layer, my headlamp on. It stayed outside in the open air for the night.