Saturday, July 23, 2005


Last night, swimming. Hotel. Under a Cambodian moon. So long, since I swam last. Over two years ago, in Japan, in a health club. Watching row after row of elderly Japanese ladies walk through the water, knees rising, smiles fixed in place. And me, sometimes joining the line. There is something oddly strange and comforting and familiar about walking through water. You are in motion, but barely. You are moving, but with difficulty. There is no pain, only resistance.

That moon. A remark I've remarked upon before, but it comes back to me. A Cambodian moon, yes, but also a Thai moon, a Fijian moon, a Khazakstan moon, a Canadian moon.

You can explain the physics of it, the science of it, the logic of it. I may even understand you, or at least pretend to. (I'm good at pretending to understand.) I know that when you are in a car, and the car is moving, and you look out the window, and you see the moon following you, possibly even stalking you, that that is not for real. I understand that. But as a child, in the backseat, I would close my eyes, wait a few moments, open them, and see if the moon was still there, gliding at the same speed of the car. And it always was.

But how can that be? I look up at the moon in the clear dark sky from the vantage point of a swimming pool in Cambodia. White mist shrouds that moon; the glow from the hotel's lights somehow adds its own, incadescent aura. And yet I know, I'm positive, that people in Thailand, in the same time zone, are staring at that same moon, just above their head. And back in Canada, where it's almost morning, the moon is a clear, gray orb, visible in the morning sky, a backdrop to a Canadian flag flutterling slightly in the summer breeze.

How is that possible?

I watched that moon for awhile. Swam for awhile. Swimming always makes me feel fluid, attached to alternate pools I've inhabited, in other countries. Other eras. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. North Bay, Ontario. Different versions of myself, younger, more agile. I remember one chilly March night in Myrtle Beach running with a bunch of others from the hotel pool and onto the beach and into the ocean, into the frigid water, and then racing back up the sand, up the steps, into the hot tubs, alive and well and laughing. A few days before we had been frozen in Canada, and now were swimming, at night, under the stars. Under that American moon. Remembering that I'd remember that moment. And I have.

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