Into Water

Check out FCT Water’s new writing series, Into Water. We treat water for a living but we live water every single day. We consume it, we crave it, we play in it. Like so many of you! The intention of Into Water is to praise the classical element itself – bringing stories and life to the resource so scarce and valuable in the world today. And hopefully we can foster a fun, water-loving community while we do it!

Into Water

About the Author:
Danielle is the self-proclaimed FCT Hand of the King for all those Game of Thrones lovers out there. She has a legal background but enjoys the creativity that comes with running a small business. Danielle is a mother of two and an avid hobbyist – enjoying walking and reading (at the same time), hot yoga, and attempting to garden. Her thumb just can’t quite seem to turn green! Her favorite moments are spent outside with the laughter of her children fluttering about in the background. Oh, and she sometimes writes for fun!

Into Water

You know that feeling you get right before you hit the water?

That’s one of the most magical feelings.

The rush.

The anticipation.

The freedom.

Many summer vacations of mine were and still are spent at Lake Ouachita right outside of Hot Springs, Arkansas. If you haven’t been, you should go. This town of Hot Springs is different. Immediately, upon arrival, you are thrust back to the mid-20th century. A different time. A slower time. The center piece of town is an old hotel called The Arlington. My great-great Aunt E used to work at The Arlington. My grandma would spend her summers with Aunt E at the hotel. Traveling by train alone from Chicago. To enter the front doors of The Arlington you walk up a prestigious marble staircase, weathered by time. The flowerpots are dilapidated. The exterior paint is chipping, peeling, begging to be restored. When you hit The Arlington’s grandiose porch, you can’t help but imagine what it must have been like in its hey-day. The it spot. Men arriving in three-piece suits, suspenders, fedoras. Women in square-shouldered jackets and matching skirts or maybe a Kitty Foyle dress, accentuating the collar. As you gaze over the town on that porch your mind continues to wander, transforming the escape room and wax museum to time-appropriate shops and stores that match the classic and historic diner down the street. The treasure that produces the finest French toast America has to offer. And I mean that.

Back at the lake you have clear, warm – nearly hot – water. Bath water, really. As pure as lake water really gets. Endless undeveloped coastline at the forefront and trees upon trees peppering the never-ending Arkansas hills. No cell service – no laptops, no phones, no social media. You are forced to be present. To pay attention to the unique sounds and smells around you. To see the smallest change in your child that you failed to notice as your head was buried in your email. If not buried, maybe your mind was just visiting 15 different topics at once, clouding your ability to see the magic right in front of you. Maybe you even learn something about yourself.

There are many activities to enjoy out at the lake, but each visit starts the same – with the cliffs. We load up the boat and take the five-minute journey to our first stop, eager to welcome vacation. We travel past the cove leading to the state-run marina where you can buy delicious ice cream snacks that melt instantly on a sweltering hot day. Past the camp where kids enjoy endless summer fun. Past Dani Island, the spot my dad named after me during a day full of adventure many years ago. Putter along just a bit further and on the right, we enter a small cove with cliffs on one side, trees on the other.

The water is calm here. It’s calm mostly everywhere on Lake Ouachita but especially here. Sometimes we drop the anchor. Other times we just turn off the boat and let ourselves drift. I look up and the see the cliffs. Butterflies beginning to flutter just a bit in my belly. I feel an excitement creep up my spine, helping my naturally slumped shoulders stand a little taller.

The brave few jump off the boat and into the lake, making our way to the beginning of the cove where rocks act like a natural ladder for the short but steep hike to the top of the cliffs. I climb up avoiding any glances into holes or still water pockets where I might find some animal or insect or reptile that is so alarming, it might jar me off course. When the climb ends, I walk to the ledge and assume my position. Ready to jump five stories into the water below. I look down to make sure the area is clear of any obvious hazards.

I breathe in.

I breathe out.

And I jump.

I struggle with chronic anxiety. I have for a long time, for as long as I can remember really. No one understood this when I was younger. Not because they didn’t care. I just don’t think they had a name for it. I have since become a high functioning anxious adult. For me, it is like the anxiety is just under the surface – water almost boiling but not boiling. In a pot. Well, sometimes boiling, but never boiling over. Until it does boil over because sometimes it always does.

In that moment when my feet leave the rock, with nothing below me, as I am falling –

I am free.

My chest opens, as if a string is attached to my breastbone pulling it up, up, up. I gaze slightly toward the sky, smiling to the sun. There is peace. Time slows. Or ceases to exist at all.

And then my toe, just one of them, breaks the plane first. A runner crashing into the ribbon at the finish line. I am engulfed by that clear, warm – nearly hot – water. Bubbles rushing all around me. Pressure building in my eardrums as I sink, sink, sink. As I rise to the surface, I flip off all that was on me before I jumped. The anxiety. The constant thoughts. The joy, even. The butterflies. The excitement. The energy, whatever it was that day. And I emerge anew. A little bit lighter, a little bit calmer, a little bit taller, a little bit brighter.

For me, there is nothing quite like the jump… into water.