Today I stood in a gazebo made of old tin cans, listened to folk music in a yurt, saw a sand snake (pictured), touched a live snake (not pictured) and spanked a man on the bottom with a 100-year-old truncheon. However, none of those things count, because they are new things, and, since I was at the Secret Garden Party yesterday too, not a new place.
Instead, today’s new place was the swimming pool of the LA Fitness gym in Huntingdon which I used this morning in one of those free one-day trials because the idea of going several days without a swim is largely intolerable to me.
I once heard Stella Duffy say (possibly attributed to someone else) that there are two kinds of people: those who look at a body of water and want to sail on it, and those who look at a body of water and want to swim in it. I’m definitely in the latter camp. Where other writers have their sacred ‘writer’s walk’ (actually I do too, walks are good – look how many of these pieces of advice feature walking) I have swimming. I love how swimming clarifies, how the repetitiveness soothes, how thoughts become crystalized, how you find out how long you can *really* hold your breath for.
So, in Huntingdon, with all of the Secret Garden Party to play in, I sneaked off this morning for a swim. And in Bologna, I went to the most gorgeous underground swimming pool (literally underground, not, like, a secret swimming pool which is in hiding from the authorities and needs to keep a low profile) – it was marble-floored and U-shaped. I feel almost like mentioning a swimming pool is cheating really, because all water is in a way the same place, that’s what good about it. It feels like coming home.
Not everything about a person is set, ever. People can always change. But it occurs to me that right now it’s almost exactly 10 years since I moved to Manhattan where, when I was looking for somewhere to live, I had two stipulations: nearish to a library and a swimming pool. Some things remain the same.