February 11, 2014

Hold Your Breath

{Photos by Kristian Schmidt}

For the past two months I've wanted to book a vacation to somewhere south. I hate the snow and the cold. Then last week my friend, Igho, texted me to hang out. When we met, he asked if I was still interested in taking a trip. He didn't care where. He just wanted to go somewhere warm. This was music to my ears. So the next day we booked a trip to Cuba for April. Then two more of our friends decided to join us. The more the merrier.

Then last night I found out that 2 of the people I'm going to Cuba with can't swim.

How can one not know how to swim?

Not even doggy paddle? Float?

I suppose if someone's parents never enrolled them in a swimming class. Or if they were born in a desert and their parents' idea of extracurricular activities is enrolling them in lama breeding. Or if they were born in the prairies the ideal fun is to clean a hunting riffle and listen to non-stop country music about trucks and cheating spouses. But born on an island and lived on an island for 24 years of my life, my mind cannot comprehend not being able to swim. Because in my mind, at any time, a tsunami can crash onto the island, wipe out your house, separate you from your family, and leave you alone in a large body of water. At any time, BC Ferry can sink like the Titanic, and you're forced to swim to a life boat where you begin your ghetto Life of Pi journey without the trippy CGI.

In a sense, I pity those who can't swim because they can so easily be killed. Just push them off a bridge, into a river, into a pool, and 'oops', they vanish from the face of the earth.

It's sort of similar to those who have severe allergies. Like a kriptonite, they can be so delicate. Like a dainty necklace, so easily broken. And I can relate: rub my face in aloe, and my face will wake up looking like the deformed bell-ringer in Hunchback of Notre Dame screaming "NOT THE FACE! JESUS! NOT THE FACE!".

My parents are afraid of sick people, and they certainly don't understand deathly allergies. A guy I dated, Anthony, was like that too. Once when I had major hives on my arm from my aloe lotion he told me to "stop scratching" and that my irritation was "only psychological". In a way they are like me, who don't understand how an adult can not know how to swim. I don't think we fear the unknown. I think that when it comes down to it, those people remind the rest of us how precious life is, and how easily it can be taken away. And that scares us.

Everyone is unique. We have our finger prints to prove so. But some reminded us that anyone of us can die any day, at any time. They remind us that even though we have a shitty day, it can always be shittier. And in return all of our complaints then sound pretty insignificant. The dryer didn't fully dry my clothes. The roommate didn't take out the garbage again. My bossy colleague is being extra bossy today. Compare to say, the family dog's tail accidentally knocked me into the backyard pool and I sank like a rock and almost died.

And without these daily complaints, there is little to say at the dinner table.


  1. Beautiful pics! Also I am so with you on my lack of understanding of people who don't learn to swim. As an Island girl from the opposite coast it is such an essential skill! And people who can't swim miss out on so many awesomely fun activities!

    Fantastic that you are doing a trip in April! Although by then, it is already warm in Ontario. Still - fun!

  2. Um, I can't swim. And neither can the boy. I fully accept that at any time, God's whim can eliminate us from the gene pool.

  3. These pictures are amazing.... wow...

    I know what you mean... I could not imagine not knowing how to swim but I grew up near an ocean and across the bridge from the city of lakes... we were always swimming... I still do when I get a chance to :)

    I hope you have an extremely fun time on your trip :)

  4. I am not a strong swimmer and oh God I have to really try hard not think about sinking when I'm on a ship. But yeah, you're right, everyone is unique.

  5. Love hte pics. Anyway, I don't know how to swim either but my parents are good swimmers. How iroic. They don't allow me to go near the sea. They're too afraid for my safety. But I'm planning to enrol a swimming lesson this summer. I hope it's not yet too late. :)

    Ericka of http://myfashionfelicity.blogspot.com

  6. "You're forced to swim to a life boat where you begin your ghetto Life of Pi journey without the trippy CGI." - That line cracked me up! But I know what you mean. I learned to swim when I moved. I think I was 6 or 7, and my dad decided to enroll me in swim lessons, but it was more like BS lessons. The instructor just expected us kids to know how to move our legs and arms in water. It wasn't until I moved to my current location, and I was 10 that, I finally learned to swim properly. But I guess everyone has their own form of kriptonite.

  7. LOL, I love the way you write, and no, my daughter can't swim and her mama swims like a dolphin, LOL LOL. I haven't cracked the code on why she can't coordinate her limbs. Past life as Martian possibly? No water in Mars?

  8. Oooh, I remember when I first heard about these photographs of models underwater with these magnificent creatures. They're such breathtaking photos!
    Anyway, you're right, I feel sorry for those who can't swim. It certainly takes away from quality of life - especially those who are going on this Cuba trip! That'll suck!

    The Dragonfruit Diaries

  9. gosh those photos are beyond amazing!
    I'm not really a good swimmer myself, but I still know how. Maybe it's time to improve hmm..


  10. Definitely more dangerous than not being able to ride a bike. I sank like a stone the first time my dad threw me in the water. That was a pretty good motivator to learn--later, on my own.

  11. great meaningful post!!
    those images are so captivating!! :D

    Animated Confessions

  12. These pics are absolutely incredible! I always wonder why some people can't swim, but you should def book your next vacation. I'm currently in Spain and enjoy it to the fullest! Thanks for your lovely comment, xoxo

  13. I met someone who can't swim last year, it blew my mind, I told him to have a go in his bath tub.

    As soon as I read Cuba, I thought of Cuban Pete: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dyO9SWiY7k

  14. How exciting you are going to Cuba!! Looking forward to photos from that trip =]

  15. this sounds amazing! cuba!? dream!