Although I grew up in a river town, I never learned how to swim. This didn't prevent me from splashing around in the waters of the American River or diving from the high dive at the public pool where my older brother and I took refuge from Sacramento's triple digit temperatures in the summer -- that was kid stuff, fun and, in retrospect, kind of dangerous (which was part of the fun.) Once I left home for college, I rarely encountered any body of water larger than a bath tub and, over time, I developed a mild case of anxiety about being in pools, rivers and oceans, so mostly I stayed out.
I took up running in the 20s and have run, off and on, for almost 30 years. But last year, after running two half-marathons, it occurred to me that I needed to develop an aerobic exercise that was gentler on my aging joints. So, at the age of 54 I decided I would learn how to swim.
Of course, being who I am, I threw myself into it; taking group classes twice a week supplemented by a private lesson once a week. It was hard, very hard. The first lap I swam left me as breathless as if I had run a 10 k and then there was the water. Unlike the firm ground beneath my feet when I ran, I could not get a purchase on water and a certain animal terror seized me from time to time as I clumsily struggled to learn how to breath -- exhaling into the water and then, every third stroke, turning and raising my head out of the water to inhale.
I took my first lesson in June. Tonight I swan 45 laps, 50 minutes, alternating free-style and backstroke. I love swimming!
What does this have to do with running for judge? Well, I haven't run for anything since I ran for student council in high school and, believe me, a city-wide race in San Francisco is considerably more complex. The process is unfamiliar and difficult at times. It's especially hard to ask people for money. There are moments when I feel I am in deep water and learning how to breath.
But I know that, if the people of the city elect me, I would be a good judge, conscientious, hard-working and fair. I also know how important it would be, especially to young people of color and GLBT kids, to see an openly gay judge of color. So I push past my anxieties and my doubts and take the process one stroke, one breath at a time.