i had always thought of myself as modestly athletic for a wan canadian, but after a year or so i remember staring across the blur of limbs churning up the water in that tiny pool, dolphins in a bathtub.
across the line a hand went by, an elite swimmer, slipping silently through the water. just unbelievably fast. i had learned enough to see that now. i finished the workout and quit the team. never made it out of the slow lane.
still, i stayed with WH2O longer than i had a right.
because there are so many people i like gathered in a single place: handsome jim and owlish jay, tardy neil, lisa with her towering babies, jessica and maru and lindy and errol, my favorite african american. where was hairless matt, looming chuck and paolo and wily steve? have i left anyone out? well everyone, really. for nearly twenty years.
so the party was, for me, a kind of closure. good to see the team so strong and lively, still bursting with unnatural good health. ‘lovely to see you,’ i greeted tom wilson, ‘you know, alive.’ because once i ran into him walking his dogs in griffith park and he had that unmistakable gimlet of the reaper gleaming in the corner of his eye. clear now, sickness gone, he lives to cry again.
tom’s party was a gathering of the originals, the pioneers. funny, irreverent, sarcastic, clever, vulnerable, seeking, searching, coached and coaching, trying to get better. they were there at the beginning, they are there today. they are a family, the only swimmers i know who shower in their bathing suits.
because they took me in.
i love those guys.