No matter what you call it, it’s a part of your life, it’s a part of my life, it’s a part of all of our lives. I personally am an avid form of water in all its forms. I drink more water on a daily basis then the majority of planet Earth. I swam in the water competitively for ten years. I love the ocean, but only for the water and definitely not the sand. I adore rain and snow. I love everything about water.
However, this summer is changing water for me.
In the sense of water as a drink, I always assumed that having water throughout the day and as your main liquid of choice, was a typical view of my favorite drink. Working at the day camp has proven me wrong. Very wrong. This is a subject I could rant on all day, but to give some context, at the camp we work at the parents were all urged to send their children to camp everyday with a water bottle (desirably a refillable one). This is due to the fact a)it’s disgustingly hot/humid/awful weather wise here in Baltimore b) the children exercise and run around a lot so it’s important to stay hydrated c) water is good. Now on the bright side almost all of the kids bring a bottle everyday, on the very dark side those bottles are full of sugary red liquid. Now it varies from child to child, but a vast majority of the children at the camp bring in a bottle full of either juice, soda, or water which then a powder (of pure chemicals and sugar) is added to, negating a lot of the positive effects of water. These drinks are a pet peeve of mine because they all are in bottles which could easily hold water which refreshes the child, however instead they provide sugar highs, often times dehydrates the child, and are overall bad for their health. Now when it comes to poor nutrition for these children there are numerous factors that come into play including pickiness, cost, accessibility of quality and affordable food. However water, at least at the camp doesn’t have the many barriers that other food items have. We have a drinking fountain in both buildings we use, which provides clean and great drinking water, it costs them nothing, is easily available, and is delicious. Drinking water is not the norm and with that comes a slew of often detrimental effects.
In the sense of water as rain, I grew up in a place where it occasionally rains when cold and assumed that was the norm. I was wrong. It rains in the summer here, it can be 90+ degrees and it rains. Though I have to admit no matter how revolting I find the humidity, I still love the rain. It could be 100 degrees or 33 degrees but if I have the chance I will still stand in the rain and get sopping wet. Now rain has purposes other than delighting me, and as one day I was complaining about the reeking odor of dog poop near where we play with kids outdoors, one counselor remarked “well at least it’ll rain tonight”, initially I was confused, what did that have to do with anything. However after a clear explanation from someone else I caught on, the rain washes away some of the nastiness and with it the next day won’t be nearly as bad. Rain cleanses.
In the sense of water as an activity, I have never truly appreciated the luxury I had of being able to go to a pool whenever I wanted. Be it a friends, a community pool, or the pool where we had swim practice, pools were overflowing in my area, now that may be partially due to the fact San Diego is gorgeous year round so pools make more sense, but I’m going to focus on community pools. For those who know me, they are aware I worked at a community pool for a number of years, so the community being able to swim is a huge value for me. Out here there are numerous pools, just within parks, that the community is supposed to be able to access, however due to lack of funding and a variety of other factors these pools are never filled, and if they are its by the community members bringing water over to fill it up at their own expense so that their children will have the chance to play in a pool, cool off, and have fun. Pools are a privilege.
In the sense of water as the ocean and a destination, it has shocked me the number of children whose favorite location is ocean city. One day in dance class we were doing an activity in which the Kids “flew” somewhere while doing the butterfly stretch, when I asked where I was flying to I responded with a typical “Disneyland” (which is both such a Californian thing and a privileged thing). When I asked the kids, more then half said the ocean or Ocean City. To these children going to the ocean is one of the high points of their year or of their lives, for me it’s a chore that I have to do when my friends want to meet up for a bonfire. Now don’t get me wrong I love the water, but it really is a hassle. A hassle that I could easily, get to in twenty minutes whenever I wanted to. For many of these kids though it’s something they look forward to all year.
The more I write, the more I seem to realize how water in a way is representative of so many privileges. The privilege of having educated parents with plenty of time who made sure I drank water and not sugary drinks. The privilege of having a neighborhood that didn’t need rain to clean things away because the city did that or community members. The privilege of having access to a pool whenever I desired. The privilege of being able to drive out to the ocean whenever I felt like it.
But as I write about water, I have to admit, there is one type of water I don’t like, I don’t like it at all and that type is tears. Now if you aren’t aware, I cry pretty frequently, but mainly at sad points in movies, television, or joyous moments in almost anything, but I rarely cry at real issues personal, national, or global. I really just don’t do well with real emotions, and this past week was wrecking on the emotional plane. And I cried. I cried a lot. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore, got up, drank some water, then cried some more. See while living in Baltimore here for the summer I finally had to face the devastating hurt felt by black brothers and sisters across the country. Being in Baltimore I no longer had the privilege of not crying and moving forward with my superficial life, rather I had the duty to lament the lives of fellow humans created in God’s image. So as I realized my own guilt evident in my previous complacency, I had to face my least favorite form of water, tears, that flowed on my face as words couldn’t capture any of the emotions I felt.