Wednesday, May 8, 2013
island diary: courage & pool sides
a moment from the pool:
almost no one in the water. the sun up in the sky. then a young girl, stepping into the water, and starting to swim along the edge - and then towards the palm island, throught the "deep" water. she is french, i realized when i heard her speak - it was just one word, but it was easy to understand:
courage. same in french and in english, only pronounced differently. it even exists in german, but isn't really used there: Courage. seeing her, it made me think that the word has coeur in it: "heart", in french.
and so she took heart, and saw. saying toherself with each stroke:
that's how she arrived there at the palm island, despite her fear.
seeing her made me think of this short story i once wrote at a poolside here in Majorca:
The water in the pool is deep blue. With the sun shining all day, it must be warm by now. That's what she thinks as she gets up to change into her black bathing suit. A star sparkled towel in her hand, she walks the few steps from the bungalow to the pool side. About half of the lounges are taken today, but no one is in the water right now. If she jumps right in, now she is the centre of a concentric wave that run to the sides without anyone interrupting it. The idea is tempting. But it isn't for today. She sits down to drink in the view. Palm trees surround the pool, some huge ones, some baby ones.
With her right foot, she tests the water. It's freezing cold. She tries not to flinch, tries not to show her surprise. Maybe it's the sight of the palms that gave her the idea the water would be tropical warm. What now, she thinks. Her right foot seems to be warming up. She moves her left foot into the water, too, waiting for the reaction of the nerves. It comes immediately. But again, after some time, the coldness fades away. Suddenly a splash. A guy jumped into the pool. His friend is standing in front of their lounges, a camera in his hands. Happy holiday, say cheese, he says. The guy in the water doesn't say cheese. He smiles just long enough to have a picture taken. Then he heads straight to the poolside and lifts himself out of the blue.
Now she has to do it. Without thinking further, she slips into the water and starts to swim. She knows that the guys are watching, but pretends not to be aware of them. The first pool length is the hardest. Then the nerve reaction is repeating again, her skin is signaling warmth, even though there is none. The water can't be too cold, though. Not colder than the nights here. Which would make it about 18 degrees. The guys are still watching.
She goes for another round. Not for them, not because of them. More because there is something about this cool water, about the way it ripples when she moves through it. And about the music someone turned on in the pool bar. She recognizes the guitar sounds at once. Carlos Santana. Black magic woman. For a moment, it is her, even though she isn't black. One more length back, one more length forth, while Carlos keeps playing, while the palm trees keep moving in the wind, keep touching the water surface without getting wet. When she reaches her starting point again, she rests a moment. The guys aren't there anymore. There is a woman sitting on one of their lounges instead, reading a book. She tries to see the title before she leaves the water.
The wind isn't strong, but it's strong enough to harden her nipples when she gets out of the water. She doesn't mind, wouldn't even mind if the guys would see her now. It's just for some moments anyway, until she is wrapped up in her blue towel. Drops of pool water running down her legs, she lies down on one of the free lounges. That's when the first shiver runs through her body. She tries to ignore it, but the towel is not enough to get her warm again. A hot bath is what she needs now.
The wind is blowing through her skin as she walks back to her bungalow. She could sail away on it without any effort, if only she had wings. But she hasn't, she has fingers, and she can watch them tremble while they try to adjust the water temperature in the bathroom. She gets into the bathtub immediately, waiting for the warm water to fill it. It doesn't take long. With the water closing over her legs, a prickling heat is rising, giving her goose bumps. Or maybe it's a delayed reaction of her nerves.
But her nerves aren't the only ones that are missing something. The water is also at a loss, it looks empty, flat. She reaches for a shower gel, to add some sparkles of colour. Immediately, shining green bubbles appear on the surface, and a fragrance of lemongrass fills the air. She stays in the warm liquid until she almost falls asleep. The bubbles are gone when she leaves the bathtub, the green has faded. She doesn't mind.
Later, at sunset time, she returns to the pool. No one else is around, only the wind is still there. She watches the ripples of the water again. Underneath them, on the ground, there is something long and dark, moving in the same rhythm as the surface. If she wouldn't know it better, she would think it is a water snake.
The shadows of the palm trees are stretching from the one side of the pool to the other now. Soon they will disappear all together. She makes a mental note to buy the music she heard in the afternoon. But there, in the fading light of the sun, she can't remember the name of the band. She still remembers the title of the book, though: The Worst Best Things.