Thursday, October 9, 2008

Nightswimming

Still, breathless summer nights with just the moon to see by. We’d hide in the shadow of the Rhodes pool wall, shushing in drunk whispers. Get a leg up, skin your knuckles and scale up the rough, lumpy stone slab stone wall, to the broad top. Catch your breath, then haul the others up, one by one. Once on top, we had to do a single-file tightrope along the wall to where we could jump off safely into the soft grass. Once over, we’d shed our clothes, and tip toe barefoot to the pool, each gingerly choosing their moment to jump in.

Stars and Sky Below
On nights like that, the pool lay mirror-still and black, reflecting the stars like a rectangular hole in the universe. On the diving board, gazing down into the watery stars, it felt for a moment you could dive and plunge into the night sky. Once you leaped, that held-breath moment in mid-air felt like a split-second vacuum between two worlds.

Water Babies
Splash! The water’d envelope you in a whoosh of carbonated bubbles, tickly and friendly on naked skin. In that moment, I’d never want to come up, just tumble weightlessly and play in the silent water, like a child in The Water Babies.

Break the surface with a wipe of your eyes, and swim over the others. We’d talk in a reverential hush across the still water, our bodies floating light as whispers.

Back to the World
At some unspoken moment, the spell would break. We’d climb out and haul our wet bodies into dry clothes. Wet hair and tingling skin in the night breeze, we’d walk home grinning down the leafy streets, a breathless exhilaration singing in our quickened veins.

"Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
It's not like years ago,
The fear of getting caught,
Of recklessness and water
These things, they go away,
Replaced by everyday"
- R.E.M, Nightswimming (1992)

7 comments:

Jeannie said...

Gosh, you actually did that! I heard about it, but would never have had the guts. I'm actually a bit scared of water - odd for a South African born and bred. Tim, your memory of those days is phenomenal. I'd forgotten the texture of the wall around the pool. Have you been back at all since graduating? I took Jon back in 1997, and we went to the Rat which was still full of faces I remembered from three years earlier. I said hi to one guy who had been in second year when I was doing Honours. He greeted me very enthusiastically, then turned to his mate and said, in a tone somewhat approaching reverential awe, "This is Jean. She *graduated*"!!!

fush and chips said...

Jeannie,
For some reason I have a memory like an elephant. I can recall what song was playing on the radio, what someone was wearing etc.

"Graduated". An alarming number of us didn't. I'm still amazed I got my degree in the proscribed number of years.

Miranda said...

Ah yes, the pool! Byadifully written Tim. Love it. Really enjoying this blog!

Tesscat said...

Haha ... about two weeks ago I finally managed a midnight swim in the Rhodes Fountain with a couple of mates!
Finally!
The Union pool has electric wire round it which is sad :(
But I have skinny dipped at Graham, St Andrews, St Andrews Prep etc.
We got caught at St Andrews once (rookie error) ... I dunno how we managed to get away but the next time we went they'd also put up elctric fences. I only got shocked twice that night.

Hehe ... I like this blog it makes me smile inside ;)

fush and chips said...

Tesscat,
Sjoe! Swimming in the Rhodes fountain. I never had the cojones to do that. Skinny dipping at night in Grey Dam was always my fave.

In our day the Union pool was poorly defended. Pity its got the electric fence now.

Bethus said...

We also used to go up to the pool at the Mot. The security guards sometimes used to come out and tell us to be quiet but never to actually leave. Weird. This blog is superb, Tim, especially the bit about the spell breaking. I can actually picture myself walking back to res after ... wishing we could have stayed there. And now, years later, I smile at my mis-spent youth, with regret, sweetness and lots of nostalgia; wishing I could have appreciated it half as much as I do now. Much Love Timmie, you're there in my thoughts for a lot of the really good years. Kiss.

fush and chips said...

Straight back at ya Beth. I miss those times, and you in them.