"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Thursday, January 15, 2009

layer cake

night-swimming has become the one indulgence i allow myself every week. and it’s a good choice: it’s exercise that’s good for my bad hip. i like to secretly race the older macho men in their speedos, observe the human body as it moves underwater (the water aerobics class in the shallow water brings to mind images of elephants swimming, clumsy limbs thrashing through water), everything illuminated and given a milky glow by the underwater lamps, like submarine headlights. and at the end of my laps, i like to float on my back, my ears submerged in water, imagining myself out at sea in endless darkness, navigating by the stars.

the delightful thing about swimming, and perhaps swimming in a pool in particular, is that it heightens your senses. you feel reconnected to yourself, notice the movement of your own body, feel your spine lengthening, listen to and feel your own breath. you feel graceful and amphibious. and the low resistance silence provides such a stimulating contrast to the other 95% of my waking day.

the most alluring and troubling heightened sense? smell. chlorinated pool water has the magic ability of collecting all the smells from the surrounding day, and stacking them on the water, like layer cake. as my face skims the surface of the water for a breath, i open my mouth and suck in the potent smells of the day: sunlight and sunscreen, burnt tire rubber from LA traffic, manure and mowed grass, the charcoal smokiness of the barbeque down the street, leaves and a smell i associate with crickets, sweat, skin, b.o.

sometimes the smells are so thick and rich, i crinkle my nose, sneeze underwater, or get teary-eyed, like i’ve just sliced into an onion. other times, they remind me of the way it feels when you’re at summer camp, heading back inside over tall grass after a day in the sun, the mixture of grass and dusk creating a haze, and you feel safe lingering in it.

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