Surface Currents

Chatchawan Nilsakul, T-Beyond the TruthAcrylic on canvas 2013
Chatchawan Nilsakul, Four Legs Acrylic on canvas 2013

Chatchawan Nilsakul, T-Beyond the Truth
Acrylic on canvas
2013

Chatchawan Nilsakul, Four Legs
Acrylic on canvas
2013

Georgia O’Keefe, Pelvis with Pedernal Oil on canvas 1943

Georgia O’Keefe, Pelvis with Pedernal
Oil on canvas
1943

Day Zero

I had no idea that water was so scary. I mean, I knew. The water is scary! But I never acknowledged what primal fear the average person experiences when they jump into a body of dihydrogen monoxide. The signs were all there: my brother “kind of hates” the ocean, my boyfriend relates it directly with Cthulhu, and I (myself!) freak out when swimming in murky lakes. But it still took my first day of on-the-job dive instructor training to understand the level of terror that water instills.

Today I watched a valiant little boy panic in scuba gear at the deep end of a heated swimming pool. I encouraged an All-State high school swimmer to get out of the water when she couldn’t handle the drysuit training skills. And before I left work, I stayed late trying to help a woman my age feel comfortable kicking at the surface with a pair of fins on.

…And all this time I thought you guys were the weird ones.

Sometimes all the information is there in the first five minutes, laid out for inspection. Then it goes away, gets suppressed as a matter of pragmatism. It’s too much to know a lot about strangers. But some don’t end up strangers. They end up closer, and you had your five minutes to see what they were really like and you missed it.

—Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers