My family went to a city pool and I’m almost sure it was the 4th of July. I was 5 or 6 years old at the time. I distinctly recall Mom telling me to stay in the kiddy pool because I didn’t know how to swim. The kiddy pool was full of babies and toddlers and the water was warm and yellowish. It was so disgusting to me, that I thought I would get in at the shallowest end of the big pool and hold onto the sides. The pool was full of kids, mostly grade-schoolers at the shallower end. My feet touched the bottom. All was well until a group of boys began cannonballing around me and I let go of the side of the pool.
I floated into the deeper water in the center of the pool. I was struggling to keep my head above water until I was too tired to continue. I remember the panic of not being able to breathe and then sucking in water. I heard muffled splashes, shouts and laughter that come with a busy pool. I remember being on my back on the bottom of the pool feeling the water pulling me deeper while I watched the legs of swimmers and saw the shafts of sunlight in the water. As I was going under the ropes that separated the shallow from the deep diving end, I was in a drug-like state completely accepting of what was happening and in no pain or distress.
Then I felt myself over the pool in a way that was odd. I was over my body and about 5 feet above the water. I felt a light breeze. I felt fully as myself. I was at peace, not really understanding or caring about what was happening below the water. Then, I saw and heard a redheaded teenaged boy yell, ‘Hey!’ as he dove under the water. I knew that this shout was about me.
The next thing I remember was being held upside down by several adults with water streaming like fire coming out of my lungs. Oddly enough, the narrative of that story remained unchanged until at some point in my late teens, I began to understand my experience as out of body. Up until then I hadn’t thought to question or pick apart the experience.