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  • I've never been to the City Pool while it's open. We started our late night break-ins two summers ago but I think we really hit our stride last year. B is kind of obsessed with it. The same way he loves sex and pizza, he LOVES breaking into the pool. I love it and have great anxiety surrounding it at the same time. It's magical and it's scary all at once.

    The first suggestion usually happens about 3 or 4 pints in, outside the bar during a smoke break. "You know what we should do, RIGHT NOW?" and we all understand that this question is completely rhetorical. In prior times, the next question has been how to get there. It isn't unwalkable, but it's kind of far. Lately, being that I am sober (and come to think of it, a non smoker, so that I am standing in front of a bar with a bunch of smokers lends itself to a whole other set of questions, I know), that wrench has been taken out of the mix.

    The main issue is the fence. If I didn't have to climb this giant, wiggly fence that I am afraid I am someday going to contract tetanus from or break my ankle on, I would probably never resist the idea of pool break in. I have to put it into my head like I imagine mothers of multiple children think about childbirth. I can't think about how it happens, I just have to make it happen, because I most likely won't regret the end result. We've learned to always bring towels and clothing that can be thrown over the sharp top, but a misplaced hand can easily manipulate industrial fencing through my JCPenney Best Prices bath towels. Stronger people help with hoisting and receiving my flailing legs and feet and then there are the encouraging whispers "You've got this! You're almost over! Don't worry! You can just jump, the ground is right there!" I have gotten a few battle wounds in the process, but I've decided each time that it's all worth it.

    Once on the pool edge, navigating in the dark past the lifeguard chairs, B likes to point out our emergency exit plan to newbies. There is a small concrete structure to the far side where we strip down and store beers and other whatnots. You can climb on top of it and hop the fence into some bushes. The drop down is probably dicey, but in the face of arrest, it's always been the contingency plan.

    The pool is not like a regular square, shallow to deep end kind of structure. It's shaped like a bowl, so you can walk in from any point and it gradually gets deeper. In the center is a diving platform that has three levels of stairs that go up two sides leading to the ultimate jump off point. There are ladders on all four sides. The water isn't terribly deep (indicated by numerous "No Diving" signs), but I am not a good swimmer. Even in the day time when we swim in lakes and ponds, I generally don't go in over my head or *gasp* jump in from any distance (Are you crazy??). But this pool gently asks me if I want to come in and swim, and without even considering my normal fears, I just do. "I'm REALLY warm," it coos (and it isn't kidding!). "I'm magic." The minute my clothes are off, I'm running in until I can't touch anymore and then swimming towards the platform. I climb the ladder and jump off the base without thinking. The first time this happened, B was kind of astonished. I'm sure it was a case of liquid courage, but I didn't stop there. I climbed to the first level above the base and jumped again. Then the second. Then the third. I never dove off the top (Are you CRAZY??) but I almost did a bunch of times. There were still moments of fear where I stood peering down at the water, shivering both because I was cold and scared. Then the whispers would come again "You can do it, don't be scared! It's totally safe!" and I'd find myself leaping into the air.

    When I hit the water, that is my favorite moment. I feel like I am in the safest and calmest place I have ever been. I don't want to leave. To prolong it, once I have broken the surface, I kick my feet up towards the surface and curl up, letting myself sink a little, back and head first. I can't see or hear anything except water. No one can touch me here. When I emerge, I want that moment back, and so I find myself swimming towards the closest ladder, out of breath, doing my best doggy paddle.

    I can't imagine the pool is anything like this during the day. There are most likely families with crying children and lots of running around and yelling. The sun probably beats down oppressively. No one is whispering words of encouragement and there is probably no opportunity to stand on the platform contemplating whether or not I might die somehow. But late at night, once I have contemplated and jumped, that lovely sensory deprived underwater moment is MINE, and I can have it every summer, if I dare.
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