After the excitement of the previous few days, we decided to spend a bit of time relaxing in our current campsite. We indulged in the opportunity to wake up late (or as late as we could before the morning sunlight reached our tent, turning it into a sweaty inferno). Sitting under the cool shade that the olive trees provided, we shared fresh loaves of bread and drank chilled water, flavoured with lemon juice. The morning sleepily lazed its way toward the afternoon and we decided to lounge against a different backdrop, so moved to the pool.
When I try to remember this part of the day, it is as though I am viewing my memories through warm honey. Like trying to remember specific details about my childhood summers, but instead they’re an amalgamation of memories; the smell of tarmac melting on the road, riding my bike too fast and fingers forever sticky with ice-lolly juice. From the pool in Portugal, I remember that first shock of cool water as I gingerly lowered myself in. I remember Tom and Harry swimming underwater with their sunglasses on. I remember baby Joanie in her white-spotted swimming costume. I remember that laughing whilst trying to swim is not a good idea. I remember talking with Kate and Frankie, for what could have been 30 minutes but could have been 3 hours. I mostly remember an overwhelming sense of love and happiness.
On the journey to the campsite, we had crossed a tremendous bridge reaching over an enormous lake. We discovered that there was a designated swimming area at this lake and managed to rouse ourselves enough to set off to attempt to find it. Armed with vague directions, we drove through sleeping villages and along dusty streets. Children and cats slept carelessly on the road, in the shadow of buildings. The cats had enough sense to jump up and find a more sensible napping location but the children simply moved their legs out of the path of the car and then stretched out once more after we had passed.
After some exploration, we found the path that would lead us to the lake and followed it down through another hushed, seemingly abandoned town; its occupants either dozing indoors or off on their own adventures. A platform led from the shore of the lake and floated out on the water. It was adorned with bronzed, toned bodies. They lay upon the platform as if posing for a Vogue fashion shoot or like a scene from a Hollywood movie. We mingled amongst them like pale goblins. Grey-skinned golems from the northern realms. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to mind our presence and we relaxed into the friendly and laid-back atmosphere of the place. Harry and Tom jumped straight into the water without a moment of hesitation. Laughing like care-free children, they climbed out purely to be able to jump in again. I stood on the edge of the platform, looking down as the fish darted away out of the path of the incoming bodies. A few years ago, I would have immediately jumped in with them, but now I hesitated. I do that a lot, it’s something I’m working on. It’s not out of fear, as such, but I tend to second-guess myself and talk myself out of doing things.
“On three?” Frankie stood next to me. I grinned in agreement, and we got ready to jump.
“Wait, wait, wait . . . You will jump as well, won’t you?” I was second-guessing the situation again.
“Yeah, definitely.” She reassured me and I knew that she would.
We swam back to the surface, grinning like lunatics; jumping into a lake is bizarrely exhilarating fun. We spent the rest of the afternoon diving into the water, making involuntary squeals whenever a fish swam past our faces, and describing the imaginary Cthulhu-esque monster that lurked in the bottomless depths (it was incredibly deep!). Tom and I even mapped out how we could establish our own lake colony, should the forest fire spread this far.
There’s a theory in physics and philosophy that states that time is not linear; there’s not a ‘past’, ‘present’ and ‘future’ as we perceive there to be but that everything is happening ‘now’. Everything that ever has happened and everything that ever will happen is already plotted out and is happening all at once and forever. If that is the case, then I am forever lazing under olive trees. Forever giggling by the poolside. Forever jumping into unknown depths with friends both old and new. Even during my worst days, a version of me will forever be enjoying the summer of forevers. I quite like that idea.