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2001-06-21 - 12:07 p.m.

For five months last year, I sublet a one bedroom furnished apartment in Travis Heights. Constance was travelling around Asia for a while, and didnít want to find a new place when she came back. I was miserable in my place (three roommates, one boyfriend, and two dogs crammed into one house; Vance called it the Real World House), but I wasnít actively searching for a new one. But when she offered, I jumped on it, and soon found myself living alone, surrounded by someone elseís things. I loved the location Ė I would sit on the front porch for hours watching people go by, walking their dogs. At night, I would walk around the dark streets, smelling honeysuckle. I was within walking distance of Joís Coffee, and a whole row of vintage and thrift shops. It was a busy summer, and I was gone from home a lot (volunteering at the Film Society, the Douglas Sirk movies late on Tuesday nights, my newfound kickball friends). When I did get home, I never felt at home. I would wander from the bedroom to the living room, or try to make myself comfortable on the tiny couch. At times, I felt like the apartment was closing in on me, and Iíd go walk around the block. Again.

Thatís when I started swimming at Barton Springs at night. Itís free from 9 Ė 10 pm, every night, at just about the time I started getting restless at home, but was too tired to actually do anything. So Iíd jump in the car, roll up all the windows (Barton Springs maintains a water temperature of 68 degrees year round, so the hotter you are when you get there, the better it is), and make the five minute drive to the pool. Itís huge, but at that time of night, it was pretty much deserted. The sun would have just set, and the sky was that lovely shade of blue and black before it gets completely dark. I would lay my things on the side, careful not to make eye contact with the regulars, and plunge in, quickly, gasping from the cold when I came up for air. And I would swim, uneven frenetic strokes, loud splashing, quick grabbing of breaths. When I would get tired, Iíd float on my back and watch the stars, and listen to the quiet.

I would be cold when I got out of the pool, and cold when I got home, and cold when I raised the control setting on the air conditioner to 90 degrees. At two oíclock in the morning, without fail, every time, I would wake up with a start, tangled in the blankets, sweating and parched.

* * * * *

I went to Barton Springs last night, with Rob, which was an appropriate end to my emotionally scarring day. I was on a strange high all day long, and did laundry and made my bed and cooked dinner and cleaned up and I just couldnít stop moving around fast enough to stop from thinking. The swim mellowed me out some, and afterwards Rob and I sat on a hillside and smoked cigarettes and traded stories. When I got home, I was still cold (but didnít make the mistake of turning up the air conditioner), and crawled into bed nearly naked, so I could feel my new, clean sheets against my skin.

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