Today was my mother's birthday and what kind of son would I be if I didn't head down to San Antonio to visit? While my parents are ancient by any standard they are still fully independent and wanted to meet me, my brother and sister-in-law, at their favorite restaurant in the Alamo Heights neighborhood; Cappy's. It's a very nice restaurant and we've been going there for decades. The owners know my parents and always greet them warmly and see to their every need.
But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my parents are almost pathologically obsessed with the punctuality of their children. It's something I've inherited, to my chagrin. Which ever group is late to lunch, a dinner or a family event becomes the target of anger and scorn. For this reason I am always early for any engagement with them. Always. This means that I leave my home in Austin with a wide safety margin of time built into the trip. I want a buffer in case someone has flipped a truck on the highway or if Martians have attacked and caused the major exits on the highway to be closed.
The trip, when nothing interferes (Austin rush hour(s), stalled cars, police radar traps, general populace stupidity, etc.), from my front door to the front door of the restaurant, on Broadway, can be handled in about and hour and fifteen minutes. So, of course I left two Austin two hours before our allotted meeting time. Today the traffic gods were benevolent. The line of cars in the left hand lane cruised along most of the time at 85 mph. I got into the neighborhood a little more than 45 minutes before our reservation.
Usually this constitutes wasted time. A toll for familial harmony. On different occasions I might drop into a Starbucks for an unneeded but reflexive coffee. An event closer to dinner might send me to the bar across the street for a fortifying glass of red wine or a (James Bond induced) Vodka martini --- shaken, not stirred. Today my trajectory was different. We were meeting for brunch and I wanted to have my first cup of coffee in the restaurant. As my thoughts were drifting through the perils of time (mis)management I came up to the traffic light at my old high school. Alamo Heights High School. Home of the Mules! (Yes, that is really the mascot).
All of a sudden I remembered the one thing at school that I always looked forward to. The recurring event that I indulged in for hours nearly everyday. Swimming. I swam for the mighty Mules all through high school. And it dawned on me that I hadn't really been back to the indoor pool in nearly forty one years. Funny, since I visit the city so often... I decided to drop in and see if it was as I remembered it.
I took my Panasonic fz 1000 in with me.
playing around with the automatic straightening control in Lightroom.
The pool seemed so much smaller than I remembered. But it has been maintained beautifully; almost as if preserved as a museum piece. The water was crystal clear and the smell of airborne chlorine was intoxicating. Six lanes across and 25 yards long. A lifeguard greeted me and I remembered that one of my first jobs was as a weekend lifeguard at this pool, a long time ago. I remembered the swim meets and the 5:30 am practices. I remember the old way of training we did back then: Long, long yardage (up to 12,000 yards in a day) and then a week of tapering before the big meets. I remember the beautiful girls on the team in their skin-tight speedos, hair under tight latex caps; and the guys with early 1970's hair and skinny, chiseled bodies. But mostly I remember how right it felt to flow through the water and how elegant the feeling of pushing off the wall was --- the closest thing humans experience to flying without falling.
I'm glad I brought a camera with me. I wanted to bring the photos home to explore them. I did ask about lap swimming on weekends. 20 swims for $60 on a punch card. You can get the punch cards on weekdays at the athletic office. The perfect thing for those family weekends when one REALLY NEEDS to get away and knock out a mile or two.
Oh, yeah. The camera worked fine.
Our table was ready right on time.
The Eggs Benedict were nicely prepared and tasty.
The brunch conversation was my family's usual combination
of catching up, trying to one up each other in the contest
of adult success, and, failing that, shameless bragging about our kids.
My parents were happy. My mom had a nice birthday.
I also got to catch up with an old friend. The pool I remember so fondly.