Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Mysteries of Swimming

Blue Skies, Greenwich Village. 1958.

Sometimes I eat too much and there’s no way to walk it off in here. Blue Skies looked huge when we first got it, but now it seems like everything’s packed in tight, wall to wall. Posters, books, magazines, comics, candy—it’s the candy trips me up, especially because I have to shop for it.
Sky says he doesn’t care how big I get, but I tell him I care. I don’t want to weigh more than he does, ever. Or even close. But he eats like a horse, my Skylar. How do men do that and stay so thin?

When I was a kid I looked like Ruby—little sticks for arms and legs. Not that she isn’t pretty—I tell her she’s going to look like Natalie Wood when she grows up. She sticks her tongue out like Natalie does in one of her movies. I can’t remember which one.

Sophie, now, she’s even skinnier but that’s all right because she wants to be a comedienne like her mama. When Sophie first started working here I thought, Sky’s never going to be able to teach anything. That girl never shuts up.

But I started getting used to Soph and now I like her better. And Gordy helps all of us with numbers, including me. Except now that social worker came in here, looks like we’ll either have to teach ‘em real math or send ‘em to school. I don’t know anything about teaching. Don’t want to know, either.

Still, I like having the kids come in every day. When it’s just me and Sky we don’t talk much, but when the kids are here, we talk all the time. Politics, history, poetry, you name it. Sometimes I even learn things about Sky I never knew—like the age he had his first cigarette or his girlfriend’s name when he was a teenager. Freda. What kind of a name is that?

I should talk, huh? I never tell people my full  name, just Blu. Everybody loves that our store is called Blue Skies. Lotta Beats come in here weekdays, weekends it’s mostly tourists. Beats want to read, tourists want to gawk and all the kids want candy. People love the posters, and I love ‘em too. That’s the best part of this job, buying the posters.

Brando, James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sophia Loren. Which reminds me, Sophie wants me to get Lucille Ball and Gracie Allen. Told her I’d look for them.

I like it here and I like my life. Sky’s a good man and much better than my first husband. Sweet and gentle. Brings flowers home on my birthday and goes out for walks with me after work, even when it’s late, even when he’s tired. He knows I get tired of sitting around.

But sometimes I think of what I’d want if I could have anything. You know what it would be? A rooftop pool, on top of a hotel in the middle of the city. No one else in the pool but me, not even Sky, just me and the water.

Sun would beat down and I’d swim real slow, one end to the other. Turn on a dime like a baby seal and go back and forth, back and forth, with just the sound of the water when I turn. I could take my time and float on my back or kick real hard and swim like an Olympian. I’ve only been swimming a few times in my life but I dream about it all the time.

There’s something about being weightless in the water that makes you feel mysterious and powerful. In the blue-pool stillness you can hear your heart and you know you’re more alive than you are anywhere else. You feel bigger, and smaller too. Maybe both at once; that’s the mystery and that’s what I like.

I keep dreaming about this pool, but I don’t tell anyone. Maybe one day it’ll be real.



--Blu (at Blue Skies)