Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Swimming in a Box

All right folks, are you ready for something new and weird?

I was on my high school swim team for two years, a fact that never fails to surprise me. I was, and I cannot stress this enough, not very good, but I had a blast. I was even occasionally able to earn a point for my team at meets. We had an unusually large team, and when it came to the 500m crawl, the longest distance at our level, many other teams only put forward one swimmer. Our team put forward two: the one who was really good at it, and me. I was often five minutes or more slower than the other two swimmers, but by golly, I would eventually finish, and get third place by default. And in a move that completely explains why this very non-athletic, non-competitive soul loved swim team, my teammates would cheer for me the whole damn time.

ANYWAY. I haven't swum laps in years and years and years. But I had a dream last night about swimming. And I LOATHE listening to other people's dreams, so I totally understand if you don't read any further, but honestly, what else do you have to do with your time right now?

In this dream, I was somehow both me now and a student in school. I had participated the previous winter in a tiny swim team, and one day we swam a mixed medley relay that got us a qualifying time for the state meet. Fast forward a few months, and it was the day of the state event. Our coach brings the four of us to this giant complex. I can't find the dressing room for the longest time, but eventually I get my suit on. I am painfully aware that I am not just the fattest person at this event, but the only fat person there. I tell my coach nervously, "What would you say if I told you I haven't been swimming since our season ended?" and she glares at me. I become separated from my team, and start to wander this building, looking for the pool.

I finally ask someone, and they tell me the pool isn't in this building. I ask where it is, but they won't answer. I go out and get into my car and try to follow other traffic to find where the pool must be. I have several misadventures doing this, though I do eventually find one of my teammates and offer her a ride. At long last, we find the pool and go in.

Only instead of a swimming pool, there's a box sort of contraption. Each swimmer individually is supposed to climb into it, and then somehow do some sort of swimming motion, which will be timed and added to your group's total time.

I freak out. There is no way I am doing this. I argue at length with my coach about how ridiculous this is, and she acts like I'm the weirdo. I eventually give in and try to get my layers off so I can swim. My jeans are somehow underneath my swimsuit, and my swimsuit keeps sagging to my knees, exposing my chest. It takes me so long to get into my actual suit that other people get bored waiting and take my turn. Now I finally see how the box contraption works, and try to explain to my coach that this was all I had wanted, to see how it was supposed to go instead of just climbing blindly into this thing, and she sneers at me, telling me it is easy and nobody swims any other way anymore.

"But that's not swimming!" I tell her. "I guess it's some kind of working out, but it's not swimming if there's no water! I don't swim for the workout, I swim because I love swimming!"

Then I woke up, as one does, and thought first, "What a weird dream!" and then "What an amazing metaphor my brain just gave me for teaching from home!" Because that, of course, is what my dream was actually about. I honestly find it fascinating that my subconscious developed such a convoluted analogy for what I'm going through, complete with lack of directions, people who refuse to give me good information, feeling woefully unprepared, and the expectation that I'm supposed to take something completely unknown and consider it a reasonable substitute for the real thing.


  1. That. Was a weird dream. I wish I knew more about dreams and symbolism, because that box thing has to have meaning. Maybe it's just because we are trapped by this virus. Who knows! I actually have never remembered having a dream. I think it's because I have never slept well, or maybe I just don't dream.

  2. I'm amazed at the detail you can remember from your dream! For me it's usually just a fleeting snapshot from just before I wake so not helpful for interpretation!

  3. Oh, how funny! This all sounds eerily familiar---so many of the details (minus the swimming) match dreams that I've had often. Mine usually involve being in a play I didn't realize I was supposed to be in where people expect me to know lines and sing songs. Or in a school environment where I can't find the classrooms and realize it's time for that big test, but I've been hiding in an alcove in the school attic for a semester or wandering hallways looking for my class. Sad that I STILL occasionally have those types of dreams so many years after being in school!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  4. I've been having strange dreams lately. Most of them involve fighting with my husband lol Even though we're doing fine isolating and working at home together. I guess I blow off steam in my dreams Ha!

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

  5. You are right, Wendy. There are many good things in this world that we cannot replicate in the virtual world. Teaching is one of those things. And hugs.

  6. I love this post because swimming! I had no idea that you were a swimmer OR that you did my favorite event! (True story, my license plate has always and still reads "swim500"!) I have swimming dreams ALLLLL the time but I think it's mostly because I miss it and my brain (and body, hah) are still wishing I could be doing it. But I LOVE that you applied it to real, current stuff too. I am sorry it's been such a struggle (I just opened your other post in another tab, so I know it isn't going great, which I definitely understand, but we'll chat about over there.) And I am always here for swimming dreams!


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