You can stand there and agonize
'Til your agony's your heaviest load
Usually by my birthday, the temperatures would be breaking the century mark. We weren't out of school yet, but we couldn't wait for June, a little more than a week away.
Heat has a smell: burning asphalt, sage and greasewood, grass trampled at the Little League diamond, mesquite wood burning in a barbecue. So does swamp-cooled air: clean new wood that slowly gives way to mold and wet. Summer had its own smell, and as kids, by the end of May, we could already smell freedom and the scent of chlorine at the public swimming pool.
Once the pool opened after school ended, my mother would drop us at the park in our suits with our towels, and the dime it cost to gain entry. We never wore sandals (insanity!), and would run across the blacktop, feet burning, into the shadowy recesses of the pool's entryway where the mean little man would take our dimes and give us each a locker key, admonishing us to shower before we got into the pool.
Then, stepping carefully into the puddles around the pool to avoid the hot concrete. Pick a spot to dive in.
You'd think that a body of water that sits in the Arizona summer sun all day would be warm like bathwater. Not so.
We learned early on that wading in was unbearable. Better to dive into the deep end. The shock of the cold was enough to stop your heart but then it was over, and I'd swim down to the bottom of the pool where, weirdly, the water was a little warmer, where I was hidden from view, and where the world became an endless tunnel of varied shades of blue. I'd stay there as long as I could, weightless, peaceful.
When I'm off balance, stressed, sometimes the vision of that cold, calm blue rises up in front of me, unbidden.
A tired mind creates more problems than it solves, and right now, I just can't make sense of the information in front of me. So the tired mind and I are going to make a brief trip to the desert and I can tackle the terror that is my email inbox (costumes for the 8th grade musical! Field trips! Travel week! California State Science Fair!) later. Maybe.
Go listen to some good music: "Watershed" from the album Retrospective by Indigo Girls.