Monday, April 14, 2014

Public Life Thrives

On the other hand, public life is alive and too well in the city of Richmond. Compared to Santa Cruz, the pool here is spilling out onto the streets. Literally.
“Mommy! Mommy! They’re letting 4 more people in!”

“What’s going on?” I ask Ian, taking another bite out of my Cliff bar. “It’s utter mayhem here today.”
He shrugs. “They’ve got a waiting list going on.”

On the one hand, this is so great. The community uses the pool and thus, hopefully, it won’t be on the chopping blocks when the City Budget comes up again. Richmond is a city known for its high crime rate, high poverty rate, and poor school system. Yet when it comes to the pool, it seems that all this tragedy is left out on the street. The Plunge is brimming with exuberant energy---were these the same kids that sold drugs on street corners?

I had a feeling not, but then, who knew? The pool was a place, perhaps, where the tragedies of Richmond could be set aside for an afternoon.

Which is a good thing, right? Yet, today, when I run into Francine at the Richmond Y (yet another thriving Richmond establishment), she was anything but enthusiastic about the Plunge. “Oh!” she shakes her head, the French accent stronger in her dismay. “Yesterday, I go to the Plunge and it was a Zoo! They had a waiting list. It was insane!”

“Yes, I heard,” I nod sympathetically. “I spoke with a woman in the locker room and she said that it was the end of spring break. That all the families were taking advantage of the last Sunday of their vacation.”
“Maybe….” Francine sighs loudly, as we let a sullen woman pass between us. “I am on the waiting list. And they cannot tell me how long it will be. 20 minutes? Okay I can wait. But 30 minutes? An hour? No it is not possible. I come back here and it is empty!”
“Really?” I shake my head in wonder. “What about the Special Olympics? They said they were gonna be taking up the pool on Sunday mornings for 3 hours.”

“I don’t know,” she muses. “All I know it that The Plunge. I will not go again on a Sunday afternoon. Though this Sunday, it is Easter. Remember we go there last year?”
I pause, thinking. “Oh, yes, that’s right. We did. Will you go again this weekend?”

She sighs again, the French accent echoing through the locker room air. “I do not know…..I will see. I will call and see when they open.”
I tell her how it’s 1 pm now. How Ian and I had gotten there right at 1 and so hadn’t had to sign up on the waiting list. She notes that the Plunge used to be open at 11. Maybe this is the reason for the mayhem? Two fewer hours to pile all the Richmond swimmers in.

Sullen Woman sulks by us again. “There is nothing that we can do,” Francine stares pointedly at her receding back, then shakes her head her head, resigned. “People like that, It will come back to them.”
I laugh, “I have a story about her.” But it’s too gross and I’m too tired to tell it I think to myself.
Francine eyes me speculatively. Then grins. “I will see you Sunday.”
“Yes, Sunday.”

For what better way to spend Easter than to participate in the Public life of the Richmond Plunge? Esp. if it's in the company of an opinionated French woman.
Oh la la!


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