Thursday, January 1, 2009

Munson Pond

The bikini had a floral pattern and it must have been lying there for quite some time. It looked like a relic from the sixties, something that could have been worn by some anonymous twister in one of that era’s abundant formulaic surf movies.

This discovery of the bikini occurred in the mid-eighties. My friends and I were adventuring through the woods where our fresh, newly built homes had encroached upon an immense stretch of private land. Through thick briars and over a rocky hill, we happened upon a swimming hole. It looked like a natural spring with the exception that one end of the water was bordered by a linear stone wall which bore a diving board. The area peripheral to the pool was overgrown and barely accessible. The bikini had been left on the mossy plank of the rusty diving board that extended precariously over the black water. The overall neglect of the place, the murkiness of the water, it all insinuated something discomforting punctuated by the bikini, missing its occupant, its garish colors fighting against mold and time. A lone oar floated in the dark water in a slow, melancholic meander as though looking for the partnered oar it once knew and the boat they once served.

But what had happened to the girl in the bikini? The semi-erotic detritus clearly taunted my young mind. Was she beautiful? Of course, she was. Her long hair was black and straight, pulled to the sides in that Indian squaw style that hippie chicks loved. Her skin was so white, contrasting luminescence against her hair and the night. That’s how she looked when strolled down to this pool that summer’s eve to get away from the heat of her house and the watchful eye of her parents. She wanted that release, that escape within the cool dark water’s embrace. She took a look around, decided no one was looking and…

But why hadn’t she collected her suit after swimming? Had there been something nefarious in those woods watching her with homicidal lust? Glances into that dark water sent chills down my spine. Perhaps she still was down there in a timeless state of suspension staring quizzically up at her young visitors, aching to tell them the story of her untimely demise. Could it be her would-be assailant was never found? Could he have been watching us that very day?

We were just a band of kids brought together with a housing development in common. Our new homes were an invasion and we were its minions out on reconnaissance. As we ventured into these wooded areas, we’d happen upon the jarring remains of lives that had preceded our arrival. Bottles from the 1940’s, abandoned cars, forlorn appliances, outdated bikinis. For most of my friends, the bottles were for smashing against rocks, the cars were ripe for a beating with a stick, and now the bikini had become fodder for jokes. But for me these objects contained something sinister, a dark history and I’d treat each with reverence and trepidation.

Today on my computer, satellite photos of every inch of our planet seem to now be available. Amid the possible exotic and grand places I could visit, I find myself drawn to that spot in the woods where we found the pool. I go there again and again. I can see that those woods I recall as vast places of exploratory adventuring are quite small and confined. But the pool is still there. Somehow, it and the wisp of woods that surrounded it eluded the progress that’s left much of that area treeless.

I’m often skeptical of the validity of what I recall. The photo bears evidence that I didn’t dream this whole thing up and I’m relieved. I moved around a lot growing up and it’s left me with many rootless fragmentary childhood remembrances. I spend a lot of time looking at satellite pictures of various places from my past, houses I lived in, elementary schools I’d briefly attended. Sometimes a street view is available. You click on the map and suddenly a photo pops up whereby you’re standing on the sidewalk. I look again and again and everything seems small and old. I’m looking for answers, for something

Maybe the girl in the bikini really could have existed, not just in the sputtering of my imagination. I’ve replayed her stroll down to the pool that night many times. It’s a continuous reel in my mind. As I’ve gotten older, she continues to emerge with crisper details. Age and experience has allowed me reconstruct her femininity. I’ve invariably attached my own fetishes to both her and her act of disrobing. Her body is young but still features oddities, complexities, imperfections and unevenness that I find beautiful and alluring. Ultimately, I’m left to resign that this image, this fantasy might not coexist with her reality and the events of that night.

The pool is still there. The satellite caught it. I can see the elongated spec – the diving board endures. The photo is an example of the wonders of technology and its aching limitations to deliver completion. Amid the pixels of the strongest zoom, I can’t make out a bikini.

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