One of the most important people in my life is my best friend, Liz.
On the surface, we seem to have nothing in common. I’ve got lanky brown hair. She has bouncy blonde curls. I’m weak and sickly. She’s got the body of an athlete and the energy of a five-year-old. I prefer sitting in my room and reading. She prefers trying out for every club and activity that she can find. If she’s fire, then I’m ice.
Despite all our differences, we are still as close as sisters, maybe even closer. It’s a little strange, we met when we were both in high school and something just seemed to click. We quickly became inseparable. We have horror movie marathons together, we do plays and mock trial together, we go out for drives together…once, we even got lost and ended up in Iowa together.
And, most importantly, we both love swimming.
Actually, we’re both certified as lifeguards, although she’s been a guard much longer than I have. Although I usually hate sports, I never get tired of swimming. The feeling of gliding effortlessly through the water, twisting and contorting my body as I speed through the blue depths, is like bursting out of a cage, free, unbound.
Fortunately for us, we live in the land of ten thousand lakes (aka Minnesota). You can’t drive more than a few miles without seeing a creek, a pond, a lake, a river, or some other carpet of silvery blue water glinting in the sunlight.
When summer rolled around this year, Liz and I both decided to go swimming at the national park.
Although I live in a rather small town in Minnesota, we have a sizeable national park just a few miles away. Imposing bluffs rise above the neighboring towns, coated with a thick abundance of trees and prairie grass.
To get to the swimming hole, however, you have to go off the official paths. It’s not really that hard to find, if you can recognize the trampled grass for what it is. You follow through until you find yourself in a thicket of trees. Keep heading east and eventually the trees break and you’re left standing at the edge of a small lake.
Lots of kids come out here. Some of them go camping here during their senior year, almost like a rite of passage. Some summer nights there will be couples here doing what can’t be done with their parents in the house.
Oddly enough, no one goes swimming.