• J. Faith Malicdem


Once primary school got out for summer break, my dad would drive my baby siblings and I over to my paternal grandma’s house in Glendale, California. She had a quadrilateral-esque pool, with weird tilts and slants in it. It was bordered with red brick that would cut the tips of your toes and the shins on your legs if you didn’t jump in carefully enough.

My dad and I would time the placing of the sun, but we had very different prerogatives. I wanted to make sure it shone directly on the pool when we dove in, but he figured he didn’t want skin cancer, so he’d wait until it was shaded by my grandma’s balcony.

When there was both shade and sun, I’d have him count down from ten, then twenty, then thirty seconds as I sunk down to the bottom of the five-foot deep end of the pool. I’d deflate my lungs more and more as I plummeted, determined to sit criss-cross at the pool’s floor for as long as I possibly could.

Once my lungs were empty, time froze.

I could hear the automated pool cleaner scour the bottom. My dad’s knee hair looked funny, and every time I came up for air I’d make fun of him for it. I’d lay my arms face up in front of me, allowing them to float along to the motions of the pool. Soon, limb after limb, my body demanded air and would float to the surface, and there was nothing I could do to resist it.

That is what now feels like.

There was a point in time where we could choose when and where and how long we wanted to stay grounded—it was when we were in control. But after waiting too long, and after letting things sit and build tension, it was to no one’s surprise that we were swept off our feet in the worst way possible. Now, it feels like we’re caught in the motions of a wake up call, and there’s no feasible way to willingly sink back to where we once were.

But maybe we aren’t meant to sink back down. Maybe we’re meant to start an uprising and take on the challenges of today, crafting them into worthwhile changes in lifestyle and ideologies moving forward.

One day, my dad counted to forty-five seconds and panicked when I didn’t come up, so he dove for my hand and pulled me atop the surface. He told me to practice floating flat on my back for long periods of time instead, so that way time would freeze in the same way it did while I was underwater. So I took on his challenge, and no longer dealt with the feeling of pressure building in my lungs. There was no more struggle to reach for air. I was still in control this way, too.

artwork by Christine Park

It’s only a matter of time until we adapt and master the changes we must make in our lives in today’s current climate. We’ll be in control soon enough.

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