My earliest memory: I am four and I am lying on the bottom of a pool’s deep end, staring up at the sunlight hitting the surface so far above me. I am not at all afraid. The danger I am in has never been explained to me. I do no understand that, barring a miraculous intervention, my life span is now best measured in seconds not years. I am curious, that’s all, largely unconcerned.
The pool is in Delta—in the lower Mainland—and it belongs to my Auntie Di and my Uncle Mike. Di and Mike, Mike and Di, are not really my aunt and uncle. Di is my dad’s aunt, yes, but they were raised more as brother and sister, they’re only a few years apart. My mom and dad and them, the four former-Okanaganers, are drinking some brews at a table under a canopy by the shallow end. They have been having a good time for awhile now. They have lost track of things.
One of my cousins, she yells, “There’s a baby in the pool!’ (I don’t hear this, but it’s how I’m told it happened.)
I remember seeing the clear surface of the water come alive with movement as my Uncle Mike, fully clothed, dives in. In one descent, he has me scooped up and safely prone by the side of the pool.
I received more attention for the rest of the day than I ever have since. I was the star of the show and everyone competes to show me what love looks like. Part of what love looks like, evidently, is Little Bo-Peep. The clothes I was wearing when I fell into the pool are still drying, and so someone has decided to dress me up in the clothes of my older female cousins. Little Bo-Peep has been chosen because someone else has decided that my features are fine and feminine and everyone says they are jealous of my eyelashes. And that is how, at the age of four, I escaped death and first dressed in drag on the same day.
Let me tell you, Uncle Mike Catchpole (circled) knows how to dive into a pool like a motherfucker. He saved my life. To his right, Auntie Di (Moubray), his late wife. I seriously don't know who that woman is to his left, but I do admire her hat. Beside her is: my Granny Snowsell, Barbara (nee Moubray); my dad's younger brother, Uncle Ken, my dad and mom on their wedding day in 1967. Auntie Janet, long since estranged from my father and family, is the kid in front. The wedding was in Kelowna. Below is the only known surviving photo of me on that day.