Reading Swimming Lessons, by Lili Reinhart

If you’re anything like me, you also went through a phase where you never missed an episode of the show Riverdale, the thrilling teenage murder mystery the world couldn’t get enough of. Although it became more...disorganized, as the seasons progressed, the actors themselves have branched out into other creative projects since its premiere, one of them being Lili Reinhart, who plays Better Cooper, the girl next door with a bit of a dark side. Reinhart has been conquering it all the past couple of years, from her appearances in movies such as Hustlers and Chemical Hearts to forming a partnership with Covergirl.

While accomplishing endless things in her early twenties, she has also been candid with her audience of millions, many of them young and impressible, that her journey has not come without an ongoing mental health battle we’ve only seen a sliver of. So, when Reinhart’s first collection of poetry, Swimming Lessons, finally hit the shelves on September 29th, because of poetry being an engaging pastime for me, as well as my respect for Reinhart’s honesty in the public eye, I was intrigued to see what she had to say. 

Her words are mostly centered around the hopes, dreams, downfalls, and struggles of young love, something most of us can relate to at one point or another. Written in simple stanzas and phrases, some accompanied by simplistic illustrations, she recalls moments she wasn’t met with the same level of mental preparedness and devotion in her relationships that she contributed, while confronting a new empty space in her life. What’s interesting about Reinhart’s poetry, up to my subjective interpretation, is that it doesn’t necessarily end on a “happy” note, like a story that has a lapse of positivity but is eventually found again: she ends by acknowledging that it was a privilege to love someone, but continues to feel quite nostalgic for the past, now somewhat lost in the present. 

Perhaps it’s disappointing to some that this isn’t wrapped up in a nice little bow to appease the mind, but in retrospective, this isn’t what has made Reinhart stand out so much outside of her claim-to-fame role of solving mysteries. I realized that this may be a hard-to-face message that we need to hear after our love for someone doesn’t continue to blossom: the poems made me realize that after loving someone so deeply, for such a long time, it’s not our responsibility, nor is it realistic, to somehow forget about this love, to just “pack our bags” and move onto the next person. Perhaps we need to take a different view after heartbreak--we can’t ignore that former love that will always be there, so maybe instead we need to embrace it by letting it hurt for as long as need be, but simultaneously be appreciative and understanding of what it uniquely brought us in this life. It is indeed hard to live life not looking into the future, sure, but also, your past is yours to reflect on the growth it brought to you and only you. 

So, with that in mind, if you happen to be struggling with the separation of past versus future experiences, or just need something new to read for fun, I would encourage you to pick up Swimming Lessons, interpret it however you feel, and know that your inner voice is very much valid.