Tuesday, December 27, 2005

In the Rain
No offense to the old dudes and gals and others whose circulation might be challenged, but the pool where I swim is usually too warm. Especially during the summer. Swimming in an 83 degree pool when it's 90 out is ugly. It's worse than running in hot weather. It's suffocating. But come wintertime? Today I scurried from under cover out onto the deck and slid into the roiling waters and -- not fooled by the steam -- took off like a crazy man to battle the big chill when I noticed, woops, the water was warm and cozy. God, it was nice. Too warm? I flirted with the idea, but, no: With the rain pelting down and the air temp around 50, we were pushing the limits of bearability but just staying within bounds. Indeed, the contrast between the water and the cool rain was trippy and ... hmm... delightful. Question to me upon my return to the office: "How was the swim." Me to inquisitive colleague: "Delightful!"

It was the quickest 2000 yards I'd done in ages, maybe ever. Breaststroke, backstroke, freestyle -- swimming wasn't a chore today, with warm water below and cool water above. It was fun and in its texture conjured memories of the times in college when my buddies and I would head out in a big rain onto the fire trails in Strawberry Canyon, above the football stadium. We'd take the lower trail, fight our way up a brief steep stretch called "the connector," then do the upper trail for a few more miles. Jesus, we were 19 or 20 and we could run hard and long in the rain as it washed ashore, blowing through the Gate, falling on the hills, dripping through the trees, cutting culverts across the path, to be leapt. Didn't hurt that heading back, the last third of the run at least was a big decline. We'd fly home, just fly.

We'd run one day in the rain and the next day, the storms still rolling in off the Pacific, we'd play two or three hours of pickup ball at Hearst. There was a roof over us, but the doors were open for ventilation and amid the shouts, the squeaking sneakers and the pounding of the ball on hardwood and off the backboard and iron, you could hear and feel the rain all around you still. We'd walk back home afterward, the rainwater washing down our foreheads, mixing with sweat and stinging our eyes. We were supermen, we were boys, we were in love with our own youth -- and well we should have been -- which seemed to sprout in the rain.


dan said...

The freedom in the moment, in all that movement, in your physical being.

Reminds me of a short passage from "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry":

I ... had receiv’d identity by my Body;
That I was, I knew was of my body—and what I should be, I knew I should be of my body.

Pete said...

Yes! It's why (well, on of the reasons) we do what we do, isn't it.