Nothing says the end of summer like the pool closing down. Since leaving New York in December, I’ve returned to the small Queensland town I grew up in. Working hard, rebuilding. The town pool has been my exercise, my happy place, my punching bag. There aren’t many therapists you can get in to see for $2.50 a session. Over the months I’ve racked up 52.4km. That’s 1048 laps, and a whole lot of tumble turns. My togs have left tattooed tanlines.
The pool is such a sweet escape from heat, dust, work, anxiety. Floating on your back doing backstroke kick, you can watch a storm roll in on a sky like the world’s biggest widescreen. You can peer over your kickboard and clock topknot pigeons a few feet away, sipping from the edge of the pool. You can make comet-blazing single-afternoon friendships with the free-range kids who hang out alone at the pool and want to borrow your flippers – just the same as you did when you were their age.
One late summer Sunday afternoon I felt like I’d dived into a Wes Anderson film: a skinny hipster couple lounged disaffectedly in wayfarer shades in the shallow end, an adorable chubby kid threw himself into cannonball after cannonball in the depths. The light was perfect, the air sharp with fresh-cut grass and chlorine.
And now the pool has closed. A last blast of Indian summer before Easter, a few farewell laps, and then goodbye pool. Suddenly I need a new exercise, a new therapist. I’ve never had the discipline to master running, but I’m trying again. Because life has its seasons. It can’t always be summer. It will be summer again, and the pool will open again, and we’ll swim again. But until then we have to make the best of what we’ve got. We all tumble, we all turn. We keep going.
When I started Trails of Two Cities I was based in Sydney, working in an office, occasionally visiting another bike I’d bought in Brisbane for a relationship that didn’t work out. I was putting my heart back together and looking for something to throw myself into; that ended up being biking and blogging. Since then I’ve left the office to chase the New York dream, realised how underprepared I was to do that, and kept on with it anyway. I’ve accidentally chased an endless summer between Australia and the US, and skirted the fine line between boho and hobo.
The two cities in question have kept changing, but my philosophy has stayed the same: that home is where you make it, and that riding a bike is one of the best ways to make yourself at home.
Along the way, hopefully I’ve grown up a little bit. A tiny little bit? I don’t know. But it’s time my writing had its own home, even if I’m currently crashing with our parents! I hope you’ll keep popping in for visits, and I’ll try to have something freshly-baked for when you do.