Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta air. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta air. Mostrar todas las entradas

sábado, 18 de junio de 2016

Swimming

   The light seemed to be far away, moving far from my fingers each time I moved my arms. The space I was in seemed very open and, for a moment, I felt that would be the feeling of being floating in space, without a proper astronaut suit of course. I have no idea why I thought that at that moment. Isn’t the brain supposed to prioritize things in our bodies in order to make us live longer? However, I could almost see the ship I had come out too, floating silently in front of me, and a big planet below me. But all that didn’t matter because I was about to die.

 The thought lasted just a second but it was strong enough for me to move faster, to force my tired arms to do a little bit more work. Every single vein and nerve in my body was crying in pain, my brain hurt so much I couldn’t stand it. I had always wished to be taller in order to have bigger arms and feet, which would have helped so much in that moment. But I wasn’t.  I was just the opposite of that and I was in a position where wishing was useless.

 My last movements towards the light were desperate. It was then when my body felt like it was empty. Every single thing that had no real use, every function that didn’t serve a purpose in that moment, they all disappeared in order to focus on the fact that I was going to die if my body didn’t perform something close to a miracle. Because I had never done what I about to do. It was a triumph I would never really be aware of and that’s ok because it worked.

 It was my right hand, my main hand if you will, the first limb of my body to feel the air outside. It felt terribly cold, colder that the water in the lagoon. The air seemed to be against me too but the difference was I could breathe that. The water was different, invasive and dangerous. Before and after that, I could never understand the people that are fascinated with water and would like to spend their lives in it.

 I guess that makes me a hypocrite. Because I kind of was one of those people before that. Since the earliest age, my parents took me to the ocean, to swimming pools, lake or wherever I could swim. I took classes and even competed for prizes when I was in school. Modesty aside, I won several of those competitions because I had a serious passion about the water, about how my body moved in it and it felt like home.

 The hard time would be during my teenage years when, for reasons I shouldn’t address, I became increasingly larger in size. And it was nature doing its job; it was more like junk food and sugar doing their thing. It was then when I got depressed for the very first time. Self diagnosed, of course. I never went to any doctor or shrink to tell me how I felt. Even at that age I found the concept ridiculous.

 Of course, I stopped my swimming. I was too big for the bathing suit and too sad to move my arms that fast. It was like that for years and I had to put away any remainder of who I had been before because it hurt too hard. Somehow, I had become a disappointment for myself. Is there anything more pathetic than that? I have no idea. The point is my attention shifted from one thing to the next. You can blame puberty for that. I just had to survive high school so, as when I swam, my body had to get its priorities straight.

 It was only in my last years of college, more than ten years after I had dropped out of the swim team in school, that I came back to the water. It’s amazing to think about it, but in that time I never really swam. Yes, I went to the beach or to houses with pools. But I would only be in the water for a moment, if at all. Maybe surprising but true. I felt I didn’t belong there anymore so why overstay my welcome?

 Aged twenty-three years old, I discovered a gym close to my house that had a swimming pool. The best part was you could reserve one of the swimming lanes for an hour and didn’t put anyone to tell you how to do anything. It was absolutely free of that. So I decided to go and, at first, I felt as drowned as in the lagoon. But I decided I would not ask for help and, slowly, it all came back to me.

 After my first week, the people that worked there congratulated me for my style, my technique. Although one of them reminded me, as if I didn’t know, that I was too short and that could be a problem. I know what he meant: being short in a pool is a problem because you take longer to reach the other side, even if it is by a few centimeters. Those can be decisive in a competition and they were certainly decisive in the lagoon. If I had been taller, the sense of terror would have been less powerful.

 When I had two arms outside of the water, the only thing I could do was taking a big breath. I felt alive, although barely. My legs hurt so much but they kept on moving until I reached the shore, which was obscured by the shadow caster over by the rocky structure above the lagoon. It was like a vault that enclosed the whole system. Why would I ever think it was a good idea to swim in a flooded cave?

 But as the soon got higher in the sky, the place seemed to get larger and the water revealed itself as so transparent and perfect. The sky was evenly reflected on its surface. It was so well done, the surface of the water, that had calmed down fast after I had gotten out of it, seemed like a huge mirror where God could check himself out.

 I lay down in my back, conscious I would have to swim back to the exit. Before I got comfortable, I checked for animals, bugs and others. After all, it was an arid place and little animals are known to live through the cracks of rocks and such. But when I was down, looking at the sky through the opening before me, I realized that was, again, my first time swimming in a very long time.

 The pool in the gymnasium was great. After some time, I got a proper job wearing a tie and a suit, which I’ve always hated, so I had to move my swimming hours to a later time. I would go the moment work finished, around six or seven in the afternoon. I would stay there for an hour, not stopping for more that a few seconds. I got new fans, new people that told me they were really surprised by me. I can’t tell you how much I loved that attention, which I had never gotten for anything else.

 However, I caught the eye of one particular person and from then on, I only cared about his comments and his smiles. I had learned not to let opportunities go by, so after a week of random looks, I decided to approach him after I was done swimming. It was weird because it was in the locker room, where people grabbed their stuff to have a shower or changed their clothes. He was wearing his bathing suit, like me, when I asked him if he would like to have a drink in a bar close to there.

 That was our first date. We considered it our first date a year later, when we celebrated the anniversary of our relationship. We didn’t really celebrate, we just got together and did the things we both like: we went swimming to a beautiful lake, we had a picnic with many delicious things to eat and we kissed and made love in my car, which was incredibly comfortable for such a vehicle.

 Our relationship lasted for almost three years. One month shy of our relationship turning three years old, he was assaulted in the street by some guy that wanted to steal his money. The guy had a gun and shot him with it, once. The bullet hit his spine. We all got to the hospital in time to say a few words. Then, he was gone. As if he had never existed. We had so many plans, a life of plans. This city is crazy.


 I came to the desert because of what happened. I needed to escape from everyone and everything. I still think about him, date and night. I cry for him and I also have wet dreams with him. But it’s in the water I feel him the most. I guess that’s why I challenged myself to swim through the flooded cave. And that’s why I’m challenging myself to go back. For him but also for me. I need to feel alive again.

sábado, 20 de septiembre de 2014

The Summit

They were almost there. Raul, the guide, had said it was only a hundred meters or so to the tallest point. Or so they thought he had said. Hearing wasn't an easy task, as the wind blew stronger in the altitudes Breathing was also difficult and the freezing cold made it even harder.

It was the first time any of them, except Raul, had attempted to hike such a tall mountain. It had been called Ritacuba Blanco and the name was fitting: the place was covered in a think layer of snow, that confused every sense and the mind.

Again, Raul, who was the first in the line to the top, yelled something but this time no one heard him. The wind appeared to be muting all of the members of the team on purpose, although that was obviously preposterous.

They walked another fifty meters and then they understood what Raul had said. Laura, the scientist from Pasto, fell in a crevasse and pulled everyone else into it. Luckily, Raul and Juan had their tools ready and held strongly on the white floor. Fast, the others helped Laura getting out and avoided the crevasse. Franco put a red flag by the gap on the floor, pierced the snow with all his strength.

They continued for a few minutes until they made it to the top. Raul warned them, breathing with difficulty, that they could only stay for a few minutes. As they had no oxygen tanks, staying more than necessary could mean dying there or on the way down.

There were six explorers, seven with Raul. They all sat on some rocks that overlooked the cliff, on which the tallest point was located.

Juan, as experienced as he was, took just one moment to see the scenery and then went back to Raul and started talking about the descent. It wasn't that he took it all for granted, not at all. Juan was just thinking of so many things at same time and seeing mountains from the top of another mountain didn't do anything for him. He had a wife and a baby girl to think of. At the cost of loosing what he loved most, he had to choose either a well paid job or loosing them both.

Laura, however, sat on a rock and filled her lungs with the purest air she might ever breath. It was true that oxygen was scarce, was somehow it felt cleaner and better than anything else. She loved how the mountains looked and how beautiful the world looked like this, just peaceful. It was different of what she had known her whole life, and the fact that this beautiful place existed not that far from home, was overwhelming to her.

Luis, an mature hiker with a thick beard, inhaled too but many more times, as if he defied the world. Only Raul knew that Luis was dying of cancer in the blood and this journey was a way of saying to life "you can't beat me up". The mountains and what he saw weren't as beautiful to him as the fact of having being able to do it all on his own, this last few months. He was going to die, true. But he wanted to imprint his mark on the world.

Veronica, a geology student, had come with a camera and started taking pictures as soon as they had reached the summit. She was a cheerful photographer, having documented her life and her family's life in huge amounts of pictures. Digital or analog, she didn't care. She only cared about keeping memories alive forever and this was her way of doing so. She had lost her father recently, and he had promised to go hiking with him. She wanted to take the most beautiful pictures to honor her father's memory.

Marcos and Tomás thought of each other as brothers. They admired the view, never kneeling or crouching or sitting but standing up to it, taking it all in as if it was a gift that one couldn't just let pass by. Both men, still young but already working through life, had decided to take this trip to defy their bodies and test, once more, the limits of their friendship. Marcos and Tomás were not real brothers, not relatives by blood. They had lived together from a young age as orphans, on the streets and under the care of others. But they never let each other go.

The six visitors came to the mountain, each one with a kind of mission. Some of them were successful, others not so much. But what was valuable wasn't the physical prowess as such. It was the fact that they had decided to take a challenge in order to honor something, to be true to themselves.

As they returned to the base camp, near a beautiful blue lake, their lives seemed to have improved, at least a little, even for a tiny space of time. They had learned no one defies a mountain out of courage or for the need of glory. All who do it, do it just for the urge, the need to define who they are.