~Day of the Wah~

WordWulf By WordWulf, 21st Jan 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>True Stories

I recognized a perfect symmetry in the diverseness of their ethnicity that never occurred to the boys. They were too busy being children, alive in the heat of their thirteenth summer.

~Day of the Wah~

Sunday, the ninth day of July, another day in 'the hood'.

My six-year-old Grandson, Billy, had spent the night. He and Zedidiah, my twelve-year-old son, would be busy playing with the neighborhood children. I decided to straighten my writing room and catch up on some computer work. Not to be. The boys appeared with towels over their shoulders, goggles and snorkels fixed to their faces. I hoped I was being attacked by aliens, then, "Will you take us swimming?" By their attire, you can imagine how many times I've answered no to that question.

I pulled my low canvas and aluminum lawn chair out from behind the couch, retrieved the novel I was currently reading and another I was writing from the bedroom. I threw the book and papers in a canvas bag, tossed a towel over my shoulder, the chair under my arm, and off we went. As we walked across the apartment complex, a couple of Zedidiah's buddies and some smaller children joined us. They always zeroed in on me for pool parties and pizza.

It was a hundred degrees and the sun was straight up, no shade. I don't swim. I go to watch the kids. A lady pushed me in once so I know I can get out of the twelve foot deep water. It's me against the pool and I wouldn't call it swimming but I am able to escape the confines of the liquid deep with my life intact. I believe I could save a drowning child. If not, I am more than willing to drown in the attempt. Zedidiah was four-years-old when I started to take him to the pool. I joined him then, walking on my knees at the shallow end, encouraging him to respect the water but not to share my irrational fear of it. He had arm floatees and Styrofoam snake floaters, snake-eye goggles, and flippers. I played monster of the depths in the five foot level of the pool and kept him safe in the shallows.

A few years later he had mastered the swimming thing and I watched in awe as he ran from the side, jumped and tucked his legs under himself, then cannon-balled into the scary depths of the twelve foot end where I would never willingly go. Soon I found myself on the grass, reading and writing, and watching Zedidiah become one with the water. Unlike public pools depicted on television, beautiful women were rare at the pool so I learned to enjoy watching fat ladies and children. What grace those ladies projected in the weightless element of water.

The particular Sunday I'm writing about, smack in the middle of Zedidiah's thirteenth summer, we walked across the apartment complex common area. As I stated earlier, his friends joined us as we crossed the parking lot, a city ritual beaten on the paths of our minds. When we reached the pool gate, there were six of us. Zedidiah keyed the lock and in we went. I found a secluded shady spot on the west side of a friendly bush while the boys dipped their toes, first one foot, then the other, to test the temperature of the water.

Allow me to digress for a moment on the nature of Zedidiah's friends. His best friend, Donald, was a black boy he had known since first grade (Zedidiah, Billy, and I are Caucasian, Cherokee/German). James was a Vietnamese/Hispanic boy who lived downstairs from us for a few years. Joe was a Hispanic boy who lived next door to us. I recognized a perfect symmetry in the diverseness of their ethnicity that never occurred to the boys. They were too busy being children, alive in the heat of their thirteenth summer. I am sure I'll write more on the exploits of these young life travelers.

The sun was sneaking over my left shoulder. Like a friendly warm hand, it made the mute announcement that a particular and singular silence had fallen over the usually noisy swimming pool. Worried, I glanced up and saw Zedidiah's prone body floating face down in the deep end. His arms were bent at the elbows, hands splayed on each side of his head. His hair fanned out in a coppery halo.
Fear gnawed at my vitals as I rose to my feet. I looked across and stared down at his young tanned body. Something told me not to disturb him; he was okay. Then I noticed his snorkel protruding from the water. Bees landed on me, tickled the hairs on my arms, as I sat back down and continued to watch him lie motionless in the pool for the next twenty minutes.

Finally, one of his arms moved, then the other. They propelled his still body to the edge of the pool. "Did you see me, Dad?" he asked as he rose from the water and walked toward me. "I went away. The water around my body was warm, just right. Someone splashed a drop on me from the outside. It landed on my back and was so cold it made me come back. Where did I go, Dad?"

I smiled at him and thought for a moment. "You went to the quiet place," I replied, "The place of Creation where your wah resides."

A bee hovered between us. Zedidiah returned my smile. "Like when you're sitting at the table writing? When I touch you, you're really scared, like you didn't know I was there?"

I touched the bee with my finger and it buzzed away. "Just like that, Son."

"Was the water really warmer around my body?" Zedidiah asked.

"Sort of," I answered, "It wasn't water. It was your energy which, of course, is consistent with your level of comfort."

Zedidiah gathered his friends as we prepared to make our way across the molten parking lot in the by now hundred and ten degree heat. He paused as he unlocked the gate and glanced back at me. "Can I go there any time I want?"

I studied him for a moment, light brown freckles on a still child's face. "Wanna test it?"

"I think so," he answered a bit tentatively.

I held out a hand. "Give me your shoes; I'll be right behind you."

He handed me his shoes, took a deep breath, and stepped out onto the hot asphalt of the parking lot. Half a block later, we stepped onto the cool grass. "The water wasn't cold and the pavement wasn't hot," he murmured, "Cool."

"Cool," I concurred.

Some days later, a lady customer in the greeting card store where I worked commented on how "smooth" she felt in the frantic bustle of the city, having just left a meditation class. I related the story to her of Zedidiah's wah. "How wonderful," she remarked, "That you are able to teach these things to him while he is so young."

'No,' I thought to myself as she left the store with a smile on her face, 'How wonderful that one so young is willing to share and teach me.'

Tags

Art, Fatherhood, Original Music, Philosophy, Photography, Poetry, Son, Spirit, Summer, Swimming, Teenage Boys, Tom Sterner, Wordwulf, Writing

Meet the author

author avatar WordWulf
I write novels, poetry, songs,nonsense & lies. Sometimes truth sneaks in when I ain't lookin'.

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Comments

author avatar Denise O
22nd Jan 2011 (#)

Just a wonderful story and so true how, (if you take the time to watch) kids teach us so much. You had me going for a few, for a second I thought it was not going to turn out good. Love it.
This will be my last post to you and others on wikinut for the next few weeks. I will miss reading your work but, I must take some down time.
As always, thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar WordWulf
22nd Jan 2011 (#)

I appreciate your thoughtful comments on my work. I'll miss them but certainly understand the need for down time.
Take care,
Tom

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