I never appreciated rain so much as when I was a lifeguard. I enjoyed that I was wonderfully trained and fit, both mentally and physically, and I liked the honor of the job, as well as the decent pay and good tan. However, I felt like a bit of a nervous wreck when it came down to it. If there were only a handful of people at a pool, it was all right – it felt like just a normal day at a pool. When there were several people, a party, even, I was okay, actually. The only time I was actually a nervous wreck, now that I really think about it, was when we were waiting for people to show up. When the pool was empty, my imagination worked my anxiety to the roof and beyond. Even before I arrived for a shift, I would be a mess inside, somewhat terrified of what might come at my next shift. I knew I didn’t have near the likelihood of beach lifeguards of having to save someone or having to treat a swimmer with any First Aid skills (or dealing with a shark), but it only comforted so much to know that the chances were merely lower than likely, as opposed to being near zero.
Somehow, I made it through that summer, though. I never did go back to lifeguarding, riding on the excuse that the company for which I had worked had closed, and so all of my credentials and paperwork disappeared with their closing (ignoring the fact that the owners of the company were parents of a friend and schoolmate).
Speaking of that friend and schoolmate, we only really became friends after that summer, but we were in band together before then, and so were loose acquaintances. We had our first one-on-one that summer, lifeguarding. He was all about making money, and so he showed up to lifeguard what seemed like every time somebody had to cancel on a shift. We only worked together once, but I remember it clearly still. Well, I remember most of it clearly, anyway.
No one showed up to swim that day. (This is the part where I’m unclear. There might have been one or two small groups who did show up eventually, but it was only a short while, and somewhere near the middle or end of the day.). It sprinkled some during the day, warding off swimmers. We, however, did do some swimming of our own.
It was during this swimming that Inwas confronted with a fear of mine: diving boards. I really am uncertain as to how the fear developed, but it did somehow. When I was little, I would run and/or jump off of any diving board around, even the long, tall ones at public pools. But by this time, high school, I was terrified of a board that had too much spring. Most public pool diving boards would go down a good couple or even few feet when an adult sprang from them. And my faith in the boards not breaking, as well as the jumpers not slipping, was low. This applied to anyone as the jumper, even myself, and even the most advanced diver. I think I was just panicked that the board would break off, and smack the jumper in the head, knocking out him/her, and resulting in serious injury. I once attempted a cartwheel off a home diving board at the neighbors’ house, and I ended up grabbing on to the end of the board, and falling legs first into the water, scratching my stomach on the board as I held tight to it with my hands (think of jumping out of a pool in reverse, and scratching your stomach on the side as you do it). But that never had anything to do with the spring of the board; that one was rather solid and non-springy. Plus, I kept using boards for years after that specific incident, though I was aware of potential danger from there on out.
Anyway, on that particular day, working together, this fellow lifeguard and school mate convinced me to jump off the diving board. It took me a while, and I was really reasoning with him against doing it, even as I stood atop it, but I eventually did it. I might even have done it multiple times, actually. All I remember about that part was that I finally did jump off, and I was okay about it.
And, I believe, I have been ever since. I still have to go check how much bounce awaits me before I actually do whatever jump I do, but I can do it, and I don’t feel like I am going insane each time.