As a child, the vast majority of my summers I spent in pools, well one pool in particular. My grandmother, my father's mother, had a pool in her backyard. It is here that I learned to swim. Learned to dive. Learned to backflip, as well as various other tricks. I actually went to the olympics every summer competing in both swim and dive competitionsI played Mermaids and dolphins and pirates (a make-believe game). I raced my friends and my brother. I was an underwater-dancer. I dived for treasures. I gave boat tours around the pool to look at the local wildlife. There were some pretty fascinating species. I became a chemist checking the pool for adequate chemicals. I was a frog-advocate allowing them to escape the depths of the skimmer. Fastest times and 10's across the board. You know, thats how I row. I would swing with my "Nana", as I called her, and she would tell me about Native Americans, Tarot Card Readings, Yin/Yang and numerous other topics. As a child, I was pretty sure she was the most fascinating woman alive. She only ate cheetos, cereal and coke. Fascinating species. She was an ex-dancer, ex- figure skater, broadway-hopeful, wife of the 50's, 5 kids, fashionista turned nightgown. Its a rarity for me to have a true childhood memory that does not involve that pool in some fashion.
With my experience with swimmer's ear, and you can imagine thats a lot, there was a cloudy hearing. Like I could still hear, but almost as if it were through a towel or having a phone conversation with someone in china.
I wonder today how much of my childhood is mystified with this cloudy hearing, and on top of that whether I want to know. Whether I really did spend a significant amount of time at the pool on Tyler St., or if I merely remember to have because most of my experiences from this time were peaceful yet exciting. I am almost certain that my Safaris around the pool were complete with feral cats, schnauzer dogs, occasional ant, corn-eating squirrels, and the rare occurrence of sober fathers. I wonder how toxic the chemicals were to my brain, and perhaps how many times I saved the same stupid frog. The treasure that I sought after would have not bought me a piece of gum. I've certainly never been to the olympics. I wonder if my fabulous grandmother suffers from manic depression. Locking herself in her room for days and days, eating only minimum, telling fantasy filled stories of Broadway and figure skating. Overly intuitive. Obsessed with matriarchal duties. I wonder now about Swimmer's ear.
Do my experiences make my experiences or the perception of my experiences make my experiences? I would hope for the latter, but would be uncertain to think it true. If a child is abused by adult, yet remembers none of it, does it affect them? If a child is raised in a home with an alcoholic father who beats their mother, yet remembers none of it, does it affect them? Even if a child is burned in a fire and retains the scars, yet remembers none of it, does it affect them?
I question whether my swimmer's ear still persists today. I am certain that my perception of an experience would reflect how that experience affects me. I am certain as I walk into a bar, sober-minded, a bar in which I had entered before intoxicated, that my perception of the experience is different. I am certain that my emotions cloud my judgment. I am certain that my past experiences, clouded or not, affect the experiences I have today.
I once saved the life of my friend who was being pushed off the plank into the vast ocean below. We stole the pirates treasure and afterwards we traveled to Africa. We caught a glimpse of lions, hyenas, groundhogs and poisonous insects. We raced to Europe by sea and along the way made friends with dolphins and mermaids. We got caught at the top of a snow-capped mountain but we used our magical powers to melt the ice and slid down the mountain back into the ocean below. We ran from drunken-sailors and had cheetos with the queen.
We perceive our certainties and count our blessings. We move pass our misfortunes and seek sanctuary in each other. We ignore wars and find a world of peace. We are ailed by clouds and rain, yet the sun is all we see. We listen to the birds and flowers just the same. We experience our experiences and love is all we need.