Interpretation by Kendra Gebbia
Sink or Swim.
There are so many directions I could take with that prompt. The words can be viewed as a challenge, an inevitability, even a snarky reply to a person in a vulnerable position.
Upon reflection I feel like I’ve made some ok decisions for myself. Upon reflection. Deep reflection.
There were, however, some not ok moments, like when I stood on the high dive at the age of seven, completely paralyzed by the bird’s eye view of the pool’s cement bottom and it’s drain grates and I thought, climbing this ladder was the WRONG choice. I want to get down. Everyone standing safely below was yelling, JUMP! JUMP! But I just stood there wide-eyed, my imagination reeling with images of my head smashed into that cement, my brains oozing through one of those drain grates.
Meanwhile a life guard in a one-piece suit climbed the ladder and said a few soothing things like, it’ll be ok, we’ll do this together, before wrapping her arms around my waist, lifting me up and jumping.
In mid-air she let go of me. I was on my own. “Sink or Swim.”
At first, I totally sank. It was the high-dive. There was inertia. Water charged up my nose, but oh, did my arms flap. My whole body was screaming underwater. All I wanted was air, air, air! At that moment OXYGEN! was the only motivating factor in my life.
Obviously I made it out alive. I swam. There may have even been a few crowd cheers. But I never, ever climbed up on a high dive ever again. That challenge was over—but there were, and still are, plenty more to come.