Getting into the Pool


Literally and figuratively.

Living the writers life.

I bought a new notebook today.

I went to my Papeterie up by Square D’Anvers.  I like that I am recognized when I go there now.  The patroness always gives me a smile as I wander through the small store picking up a notebook here, fondling a pen, touching a card.

I am a tactile sort of gal.

I picked up another Claire Fontaine notebook.

This make three notebooks I have bought in Paris.

Three notebooks full, bah, bah, black sheep.

I also picked up some more pens.  Yes, they are more expensive than the US, but as the days continue to compile on my Parisian experience I am more and more seeing things in Euro instead of dollars.

The work that the pens do, as well, merits using good ink.

I have a certain kind of requirement for getting me to that happy place where the pen hits the paper and strides confidently along it, smoothly, without a hitch.

One of those things I require is exercise.

My brain does not want to admit that.

Watch some Shameless, that’ll do the trick.

Uh, no.

It actually won’t.  Not to say that I won’t watch a little Shameless later, but I won’t do it in the middle of the afternoon, I won’t check out on my computer.

I will check things out, however.

Like the piscine at the Paul Valeyre Centre de Sportif on the corner of Rue Cadet and Rue Maubeuge.  Which is on the corner of oh my God that’s so close I have no excuse not to go.

It is a block away from me.

That’s right, there is a swimming pool, open to the public, a block away from me.

I could tell, I have been thinking about it now for weeks.  I can smell the chlorine wash drifting out of one of the vents every time I dash down the hill from 36 Rue Bellefond to the Cadet Metro stop.

I have been quietly investigating.

Doing a little research here and there.

What I have found is actually quite astounding.

There are a huge amount of pools in the Paris area and they are really quite affordable to go to, if you get the pass.  If you don’t it’s about 3.70 Euro a swim.  But if you get the three-month pass it’s 37 Euro.

37 Euro for three months!

That is a freaking deal.

For a little spot of time when I was in San Francisco I was a member at the UCSF center down on Mission Bay, they have two pools there, an indoor and an outdoor.  I was paying about $89 American a month to be a member.

I did it for about four months.

I swam.

I miss swimming.

It is soothing for me.

It feels like flying.

It is good exercise and it is highly meditative for me.

I started swimming, competitively, “late” in life.

I got onto the high school swim team when I was a sophomore in highschool.

Most of the swimmers on my team had been competing from an early age, most before the age of ten.

I was a truly late bloomer at the age of 16.

I had never intended to be on swim team.

I had not intended on having weak ankles either, which is what I discovered at the age of 15 when I suffered an injury in a basketball game.  I went in for a lay up and got fouled, I landed heavily on my left ankle and blew it out.

I wore an air cast for a week.

Life sucked.

I rested off it for another week, then I was back in the game, and literally the next practice I had, the exact same thing, I went in for a lay up, and when I came down my ankle went out, and this time I had not been fouled.

The doctor looked at me and said, “no more contact sports, unless you want to undergo surgery and be on crutches for three months instead of a week.”

“No contact sports?”  I asked, I had not really thought basketball was that much of a contact sport, but ok.

“No.” The doctor replied, then asked me, “what other sports do you play?”

“Soccer and softball,” I said.

“No, neither, you can’t do either,” the doctor said firmly.

I was in shock.

“What can I do?”  I asked.

“Swim.”  He said, shut the file with my ankle x-rays in it, and said, “swim, that’s about it.”

I thought no more of it until that summer when I went to the pool.  My ankle was still tender, I do remember that, surprisingly so, I had not been doing any sports for months and it was still tender.

One of the lifeguards noticed me and said, “you should go out for team, you’re not bad.”

I was totally flattered and thought, why not?  That’s the only sport left.

I went out for team.

To this day I am still shocked that she said that to me and that I actually decided to try something else.  I loved being in the water though, I had been swimming since I was a baby, literally, my mom put me in swim lessons at 10 months.

I don’t remember not being able to swim.

I think I thought it would be that same sort of lovely divine floating and playing that it was that summer before I actually joined the team.

It was not.

It was horribly hard and I struggled for a long time.

But I kept showing up and at the end of the season I had been named Most Improved.

I lettered the next year and the year following.

I became a life guard and the pool my refuge from home when home got too hard.  And home was getting pretty fucking hard.  I ran away, to the pool, after spending the night in the back of a school bus, my senior year.

I was always at the pool.

It was my comfort, a constant, I could show up at, work hard, and even if I was not the best on the team, I could always improve on my own times.

The perfect team and individual sport all at the same time.

I had lots of surprises being on that team.  I got a kind of acceptance from my team mates and from the school I had never really had before.  I will always be grateful for that place.

Now, I feel that itch happening again.

The desire to get back into the water.

Despite the tattoos, which I am nervous about unveiling to the entire French world, or so it feels, and despite not having actively swam in years, the allure is there.

Today I went looking for a swim suit.

I did not find one, but I did find out from a friend that there is a store I can go to at Les Halles that will have them, along with goggles and caps–which all the pools require.

I am actually happy about that, I prefer to swim with a cap on, protects the hair and it keeps it out of my eyes.

I did not swim today, but I will soon.

I walked two miles, bought a new notebook, went to Odette & Aime and worked on my new piece, which has gone back to being a novel, I had a little epiphany, and I realized I was shying away from the story by trying to write a screen play.

I got in the writers pool.

I read.

I wrote.

And soon I shall swim.


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