Recalling my first European visit

2005-11-07

in Books and literature, Daily updates, Travel

Kelly in the JCR Bar

Today was dark and rainy. It involved little more than sitting in different parts of the Social Sciences Library reading The Economist, Donald Watt’s How War Came, Anthony Adamthwaite’s The Making of the Second World War, and the collection The Origins of World War Two: The Debate Continues, edited by Robert Boyce and Joseph Moile. In spite of reasonable efforts to do so, I don’t feel particularly compelled to read for this week’s topic, on appeasement during the 1930s. That said, it is fairly likely that Dr. Hurrell will assign me a paper on it during our meeting tomorrow.

Despite a period in the JCR bar with Kelly and Nora, a phone call home, and the doing of laundry, today certainly cannot be considered a particularly energetic one. As such, it seems a better idea to use this space describing something else.

The first time I went to Europe was before Sasha, my youngest brother, was born. Mica, the brother who is either two or three years younger than I am, depending on who has already had a birthday that year, was still drinking out of the kind of bottles that infants are like to. Very clearly, I remember a piazza, somewhere in Italy, when on a hot and sun-struck afternoon, Mica and I splashed each other and sprayed water at one another out of the aforementioned bottles. 

During that trip, I tried swimming for the first time, as a place called Spagio Romea. I remember this large, toadstool shaped protrusion in the shallow end of the room that stood over it like a massive umbrella. A sheet of water would pour over its rounded top, then fall like a glassy plane before breaking frothily at the boundary with the pool’s surface. Aside from the new experience of swimming, quite possibly the best thing about Spagio Romea was the unending supply of free Mentos candies: a thing that had not yet been seen in North America.

When I was rather younger than I now am, but not nearly as much younger as when I first went to Italy, I spent a lot of time swimming. For several years, the smell of chlorine never really left my clothes and hair. During my later years there, I remember cycling from Cleveland Elementary School – which Jonathan, Alison, and I attended – to William Griffin Pool, through Edgemont Village.

Back then, the Red Cross designated swimming levels by colours: beginning with yellow and ending with white. I had to take maroon at least three times, but ended up finishing white and life-saving II before my age would permit me to move on to the next level, which I believe was called Bronze Cross. After two years of not swimming with any regularity, while I was becoming old enough to take that course, I found myself quite completely unable to do so. As I am sure anyone who has done something quite actively, several times a week will know: you can’t just take a two year break and then begin again where you left off.

I haven’t really swam since, except once in a while and always with the pressing knowledge that I used to be rather better at it. Even though I still enjoy doing it, the gracelessness with which I manage it is more than enough to dissuade me from doing so except under the most casual of scrutiny. Ineptitude that you have always possessed can be laughed off, but newfound ineptitude is a mortifying thing.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jess November 7, 2005 at 1:34 am

I’m glad to see you’re finally letting bits of NSN see the light of the blogosphere again, I miss them.

Milan November 7, 2005 at 10:57 am

This isn’t actually from Night’s Sindark Nave, but written in a similar vein.

Jess November 7, 2005 at 7:45 pm

Hmmm…I know I’ve read the bit about swimming somewhere before. Although, it’s entirely possible that I’m psychic, or maybe just plain crazy.

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