Ocean Blue by Ace Idoko

I had spent so much time poolside that I was beginning to catch a tan. My skin was burning up but I really didn't care. Next to me was a Lebanese woman, a pretty young thing, and in front of me was a sunset rising, the perfect view. The pool was a crystallized color, a bright blue and green I was beginning to call ocean blue. I wanted to jump in. So when the people began to gather around, I began to think that they would make quite the audience. If I was going to jump in, this would be the perfect time to do it. And so I motioned to the Lebanese woman on my left and told her I was going in the pool. She looked at me and said “Good luck.” Now you might be wondering why she said ‘good luck’ but I’ll explain that to you in a moment. I walked over to the pool and gazed into it for a moment or two trying to weigh the possible outcomes and the potential risks. If I jumped in I was the hero, if I didn’t I was the punk. I looked back at the Lebanese woman, she was taunting me and making rapid swim strokes in the air. Earlier I had been extremely confident, but now that I was face to face with my childhood fear I didn't think I could do it. I looked up to my left and everybody was staring at me. Black boy by the pool, refusing to get in and just staring at it. They knew what I knew. I couldn't swim. I had bet the Lebanese woman that on this day I would conquer my fear. That on this day I would look that stereotype in the eye and smash it to pieces. And so I looked up again, this time locating the black people in the crowd. They were all looking at me, proudly cheering me on. I felt it. This mountain I was about to climb over, this milestone I was about to reach — this wasn't for me, it was for my people. And so I stood up, walked over to the diving board and summoned the crowd. “For 24 years I have let this fear hold me back. But today that fear ends. This isn't for me, this is for my people. This is for my kids and my kids kids. So that they too can someday jump in a pool and not worry about drowning. This is a farewell to floaties, to lifeguards, to only being able to stick our feet in the water. This is for change. And this is for the death to all stereotype.” I leaped off the diving board and instantly gave myself to Jesus. If I was going to rise to the top of the pool it would only be because of him. I remember feeling like I was flying in the air for a brief moment and then immediately being pulled straight down by gravity. I heard gasps in the air as I hit the water. I wasn’t sure if it was from the people or if it was the sound heaven made when you got there. Either way I sunk straight to the bottom and stayed there. After a short stint, I felt something pull me up. It was the Lebanese woman. I didn’t know at the time, but I do vividly remember thinking it was a beautiful Spanish mermaid. She pulled me out of the water and dragged me onto the ground. “What on Heaven’s Earth were you thinking?” she said. I looked at her, trying to recollect where I was and what just happened. When I finally did, I grabbed her hand, looked her in the eye and said “You owe me twenty bucks” and immediately laid back down to the ground.

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Ace Idoko is The Urbanaire. He is a social critic and writer. For questions, or just to meet the man himself, send him an email at ace@theurbanaire.com.