Swimming With Life
“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson
I love rain. Rain invigorates the Earth as well as my spirits. I love almost all forms and bodies of water. I enjoy a cloudy, rainy day reading or watching movies. I even enjoy getting caught in the rain---of course, this depends on the current style of my hair, where I’m headed, and what I’m carrying. A soggy book or a waterlogged laptop is no one’s idea of a good time. As I say, I love the rain, but it doesn’t always love me and tends to follow me at inopportune times. For instance, slate-gray skies and rain were nearly constant companions across Europe in the summer of 2010. It felt like every other day of my two-month journey, which took 3 years to plan and save for, it rained. It rained in Paris, Avignon, London, and Rome. But my train from Naples deposited me in the middle of a gorgeous summer day and I thought Sorrento was going to be the exception. I thought I’d caught a break. The sun shone down on the city known as the gateway to Capri, filling me with heat and hope. But I think you know where I’m going with this.
I checked into my hotel, double-checked that the bathtub was the deep soaking tub of my fantasies, and then immediately chucked my bags and wiggled into my swimsuit. Miraculously, the huge pool surrounded by lemon and lime trees was empty. Securing a prime lounge chair and a gin and tonic from the pool sidebar, I stretched out, letting the Mediterranean sun and English juniper berries do their job. I had been traveling for six weeks and as much as I loved a long-haul trip that let you settle in and really explore, it had begun to wear on me. I was tired and Sorrento was my first pool without scorpions (I think). Sipping my drink, taking in the lemon and lime trees, I marveled at the beauty and the idea, the fact that I was in the south of Italy. I had planned and saved for so long and I had gotten myself exactly where I wanted to be. Don’t get me wrong. Things had definitely not gone as planned, not even a little, but I was where I was supposed to be, where I wanted to be. Inhaling the sharp scent of ripening citrus, a sense of satisfaction rolled through me. Warm inside and out, I jumped up from my lounger and hopped into the pool. My body and my mind shifted as the water enveloped me. Ancient poets the likes of Sappho (c. 630–c. 570 BCE), Aurelia Petrucci (1511-1542), and their sisters would have written sonnets and elegies on how water soothes and elevates me.
I was in my sweet spot doing laps in an empty pool under a bright blue sky, my grazie, grazie, grazie to the travel gods floated up on air bubbles. Even on vacation, I challenge myself to twenty or thirty laps before allowing myself to float aimlessly, drifting on my thoughts and the sensation of weightlessness. Time and place meant nothing as I let the water take me. I was halfway through my laps when the sky began to darken. Clouds heavy with condensation shadowed my strokes, trailing me from one end of the pool to the other. Even as fat drops began to fall, I plowed on. The swim was so delicious, the setting so idyllic, I couldn’t bring myself to stop. Enveloped in water from above and below, I floated, letting my mind drift. My earthly bliss lasted for all of thirty minutes before the rain turned steady. Relenting, unsure if lightning worked the same way on that side of the pond, I hauled myself out of the pool, rescued my towel and waterlogged cocktail, and retired to my room where I enjoyed my soaking tub and a fresh cocktail.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back in September when my Italian sojourn continues.
In the meantime, be kind to one another, keep on traveling with a feminist eye, and keep on being Feminist AF!