I start reading this memoir seven months pregnant and lying poolside.
Lidia Yuknavitch opens her story with the still birth delivery of a baby. Her depiction is physically and emotionally wrenching.
I set the book down. I'm not sure this is what I should be reading right now. I lay back, belly swollen in bright sun light. Her words wash over me. They frighten me. This book holds a river's current. It could carry me away.
"All the events of my life swim in and out between each other. Without chronology. Like in dreams."
I walk into the cool water of the pool. The baby girl shifts inside me, moving in the water's weightlessness. I climb out of the pool; dry off. I pick up the book again. I can't help it. I want to read the next chapter, the next sentence, the next word. She hands me stones.
"The rocks. They carry the chronology of water. All things simultaneously living and dead in your hands."
I keep reading and hold myself in contrast to the words on the page and the author who wrote them.
I leave the book cover on. This tells you how different Lidia (is it okay if I call her Lidia?) and I are from one another. The cover is rated R, a beautiful image of a topless woman submerged in water. Where I bought the book there is a sleeve on the cover to make it PG. I cannot bring myself to take the sleeve off. But her words, Lidia's words, they rip at the cover. She dives into the deep without hesitation.
I wanted to do it again.
I wanted to eat all the colors and see what I felt. No. I wanted to eat all the colors and get to the not feel. But even that was not enough for a burning girl."
Lidia has written a woman's memoir. My own memoir is in the voice of a child and that isn't all that separates us. She lives her life huge, fast, hard and wild. I am small, slow, soft and calm. But water is all of this. It is both rapid and pond.
"Upside down I saw the sun and sky at the surface make stunning blue electricity. The rushing water and strength of current pulled my arms, rocked my legs. The upsidedowness of blood in my skull made my head ache. I closed my eyes. Still smiling. The cold wet of my life. My body deep in water. Weightless. Airless. Daughterless void."
Lidia and I have some things in common. We both have swimming. I grew up swimming laps in pools too. We have Oregon, it's lakes, rivers, forests and coast. We have Eugene and know depression there. We have older sisters. We both held death in our wombs. We write stories.
"Ask me about writing, well, that's a fierce private. Writing, she is the fire of me. Where stories get born from that place where life and death happened in me. She carries me and will be the death of me."
I keep reading. Between chapters I slip into the weightlessness water. I dive, pull and tread. This is the best way to read this book, close to water.
I haven't loved a memoir like I love The Chronology of Water in a long time. It reminds me of the potential power in this genre; the ways it can stretch and pull at a reader and at a life. It made me love books again. It made me want to read, write and drink in words like water.