Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A lazy morning in Rome, when I was twentyone

The sun is blazing outside, my room a humid furnace. I yawn and get up, I glance at the clock and realise I wont get any lunch for at least an hour or two and so decide to go for a swim. I grab a towel and head for the front door. I take the lift down and walk up to the pool we share with another fifty flats or so. I nod at the lifeguard standing watch over the gates and find a place to sit quickly. This is not surprising as the sun is far too hot at this time of the day, and the pool is nearly empty. I take my shirt off, enjoying the fierce glow of the noon sun on my skin. I notice that I’ve lost a lot of muscle in the last three years and I promise myself to buy some weights and improve things somewhat. I get to the shower and, careful not to stand in front of it, I turn it on. The nozzle explodes in a frenzy of icy water and I take a deep breath before I step forward.
I close my eyes and gasp as the water hits me and I feel my chest contracting, tighter and tighter, and then, before I know it, I’ve step forward and the heat takes over again. I walk to the edge of the pool and gaze in to the blue water, it’s depths lacerated by rays of light. I feel my muscles flex and I’m diving through the air and in to the pool. I dive deep, holding my breath and swim scraping the floor of the pool. The water calms me down and I feel safe and relaxed. I shut my eyes and for a moment and, in this embryonic state, I am totally at peace. But now my lungs protest and I need to emerge again, gasping for breath. I swim a couple of laps letting my body distend. I use my shoulders and enjoy the feeling of muscle reawakening.
I finish a few laps, turn around, take a deep breath and dive again. I swim to the other side, calmly cherishing the water as it holds my body lovingly. Emerging at the opposite end, I push myself out of the water and on to the edge of the pool. I walk back to my towel and dry my face, the soft fabric soothing my burning face. I lie down under the sun and feel my skin getting hotter and hotter. I let my body shut down to it’s minimum and let my mind wander. At first all I think about is the pleasure of the hot sun on my back. One of the things I missed most in the last three years in Manchester was the sun. I missed the Rome sun more than anything; more than my home, more than my friends, even more than the food. I realise that the persistent Manchester rain, which lashed the city every fucking day, all year round, in the end got to my head. In part, I would even say, it contributed to the fact that I couldn’t stand being sober for more than a day when I lived there. I smile as I think of how many drugs I experimented with and start to doze off as I reminisce about those days which now seem so distant, yet which finished only couple of months ago. I wait till my skin is on fire, my back groaning with sweat. I stand up and my head spins wildly, blood hitting my brain like a sledgehammer due to the heat. My vision slowly settles and I walk back to my flat, nodding at the lifeguard on the way out.