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Pool Time

Since moving to Atlanta, I've only been to the pool in my apartment one time. It was when I first moved down with my dad. But I love to swim. Still, I just couldn't get myself to go to the pool by myself.

Part of the reason I hadn't gone is the fact that I had no memory of how to get there. My apartment is a labyrinth split into two buildings with no map. You have to find the elevator, walk through the hallway towards a courtyard with a grill, and then down a flight of stairs and you've made it the pool.

The pool is a rectangle with two sets of symmetrical square inlets. At its deepest, its five feet with a ledge to jump from. There are pool chairs and a grill. Its surrounded by the apartment complex on all sides with balconies facing in.

The second time I went down to the pool was in the early evening a couple of days ago. The pool was split in half by shadow and sun. I was alone with the sound of the birds. I set my stuff down on the chair and stepped on the small ledge.

I took some deep breaths before jumping into the pool. The water was cold, but after popping back up, I was wide awake. I swam laps without goggles, so my eyes started to sting. My arms and legs burned as I went back and forth trying not to touch the shallow bottom.

After a while, a family came down to the pool. The kids jumped in and started splashing around. I swam a couple more laps, but decided it was time to get out. I didn't want to disturb their fun by swimming laps in a clearly recreational pool.

I dried off, drank a Gatorade, and ate some Cheetos as I packed up to work my way back through the maze. I felt the dull buzz in my muscles that you only feel after getting out of a pool. I looked down at my chest and could see a new light dusting of freckles.

I went back in a couple of days, and there was someone laying on their stomach in a one piece swimsuit listening to music. A pride flag was blowing in the wind. A couple came out to sit in red outdoor chairs outside their apartment. A young kid was sitting on his porch playing a game on his phone. I made eye contact with him, and he flipped his phone towards me and put it on his forehead. I asked what the game was called, but I don't remember the response.

I felt self conscious as I flailed around in the water. I never learned the form of swimming other than when I was little and shivering on the high dive.

I know I didn't look good, and wasn't exactly using the pool as intended. But when I crossed the border into the sun, I turned around and felt my face warm. I moved the water, let it slip through my fingertips, and remembered that I can take this space to care for myself.

Now in this pool in Atlanta, crossing the line from shade to sun, I gulped down water on accident as I sucked down air. The world was colored in rose through the goggles I just purchased. I scooped the water on the back stroke, feeling it propel me forward.

Once I felt thoroughly tired enough, I laid down in the pool chair, still feeling the thrum of moving in the water, as I soaked in the last remaining rays.


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