Monday, May 24, 2010

My Life Aquatic

Before I start this long emotion filled ramble, I must preface it by stating that writing this piece was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. My first attempt at this reflection occurred last Saturday after I returned home from my final swim meet. Yet, when I sat down to sort through my thoughts, I hit a mental wall, frustrated at my inability to adequately articulate my emotions. The weekend passed, and I suffered through a boring Monday at school, yet when I proceeded to head home after my classes. Then realization set in that my life aquatic was truly over. All the emotions, friendships, and memories from the past four years were now just that, memories, and all my brain could focus on was that a significant chapter of my life was coming to its inevitable close. So, I went home, shut my door, turned on music, and broke down. Now, this may sound ridiculous and melodramatic to the average reader, but I felt, and still feel that a part of me has truly died. Yet, despite this apparent sadness, I believe that my aquatic experiences ultimately shaped the person I am today.

For the past four years of my life I have been immediately identifiable by a few key features. The first being my height, and the second being my chlorine drenched blonde hair. As one of my good friends used to say, "In the hallways, I can always see the lighthouse." Yet, after four years of success, failure, frustration, camaraderie, and love, my life aquatic came to an end. To understand the significance of this moment, we need to trust in the island and travel back in time to 2006.

Entering into high school, I could be aptly described as alone, scared, and depressed. I had decided to attend a "Prep School," and was woefully unprepared for the Polo's, Abercrombie, and American Apparel aspect of the schools social scene. In short, it was a bad episode of saved by the bell, and I was nerdy, lonely, weird extra # 3. To make matters worse, my best friends for the past six years had decided to attend different high schools, and I was venturing out of my cozy organic suburb to the city of San Francisco. The fabrication of the city I conjured up in my mind was that of a frightening steel metropolis at the other end of a bridge to nowhere. However, my 2006 persona actively believed that the worst part of all of this change, was that after my middle school experiences, I was making this horrendous odyssey to sit in a class filled with kids I would never truly care for. In short, I was a Salinger stereotype, and I was tossing my emotions into the proverbial duck pond.

Then a few weeks into the school year, something happened that in retrospect saved my sanity and maybe my life, water polo season. During this season, the team had its sweet successes and bitter failures, but the actually athletics were always my secondary concern. During those few short months I was simply content that I had essentially found my tribe in this crazy new environment, where I thought I wound never really fit in. However, this happiness came to abrupt end in November of that year when polo season came to its unavoidable conclusion. Then much to my dismay, this led to my teammates going there separate ways, most likely to spend time with their grammar school friends. These departures triggered an immediate and steep descent back into my saddened state. Not seeing my friends everyday was taking a tole on me, and I would come home, cry my eyes out, and count down the days until swim season began.

This pattern of varying levels of happiness, and fluctuating interval viewings of the movie,The Graduate, continued until my sophomore year. Then during that year something momentous, yet quietly indescribable happened, my tribe failed to disband. We all began a regular pattern of eating lunch together, hanging in the library, and actually seeing each other outside of school, and more importantly outside of the poisonous stench of the SI pool. We were no longer simply teammates, we were friends. During this time, my cycles of depressed crying listening to Radiohead alone sessions strongly decreased in frequency, and for the first time in a long while I felt happy. This new found comradery only continued to grow, and ultimately culminated during senior year water polo season. For the first time in history, The St. Ignatius Water Polo team qualified for Central Coast Sectionals. Yes, we had all heavily trained during our four years, but I whole heatedly believe we would not have accomplished that goal if we were not all the best of friends.

Looking into the immediate future, I am nervous about starting college next year. However, the part I'm most apprehensive about is not leaving home or saying goodbye to the beautiful bay area. No, the part that terrifies me is the possibility of losing the deep relationship I share with all of my friends. Now fast forward to the immediate past, it's still that Monday after swim season, and I'm breaking down in my room. Yet, as I lay on my bed crying, I come to a startling realization, that because I now have these relationships I will never be alone again. In the future, I will undoubtedly be back inside the flaming car, hurling back toward the abysses of sadness and depression. Yet, I can look out the window of my pyrotechnically prone vehicle, and know my friends will always care for me. On this earth, time runs out for everyone and everything - if that were not the case, there would be no point in sustaining ourselves and our memories. Writing, photographs, and home videos all tie into this human tendency to remember our past. Yet, when something dies, its spirit lives on through all the things it touched in its life, and that is why I will never be alone again. So in parting I close this chapter of my life treasuring the memories and relationships that I will never forget. I love you guys.

So you say goodbye. You go to sleep, and you wake up the next day without it. And you smile, because you know that since you lost it, you will always have it.

In a few short weeks I will be graduating high school, and I'm shocked at mymetamorphosis. I entered at a depressed, lonely, shy boy, and am hopefully leaving a confident, passionate, loving person.

Life is always darkest right before dawn. - Thanks SI.

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