chasing vertigo – the summer vacations of a young introvert

Hot days remind me of afternoons spent swimming in a rock-rimmed kidney-shaped pool with a black bottom. We swam there almost daily, surrounded by sand, the smell of sunscreen, the buzz and click of wasp wings. We would leap from the rocks, chasing the sense of vertigo one could achieve by over-balancing when diving into the deep end and executing a sort of backflip under the water. I loved that moment of suspended confusion. I would hang in the water, the sounds from the surface muted and distorted, light everywhere, up and down indistinguishable for the space of a heartbeat.

I cherished my summers. Summers meant staying up late to read. Summers meant extra time on horseback. Summers meant writing what I wanted to write. Summers meant time alone. Even as a kid, I had a high capacity for solitude. Those long, empty days of summer vacation recharged me, filling up some internal reservoir of quiet. I grew depleted over the course of the school year. I turned into someone else to function in a classroom setting, to make friends, to ride busses. The summers were my chance to recover my sense of self.

In the evenings, when one of my siblings had a friend over or my father would turn the TV on, I would crawl through my bedroom window onto the roof of the porch, closing the glass on the din inside. I would lie on my back and gaze at the sky. The cool night breeze would prickle my skin and I would hear the soft rattle of the mesquite beans in the trees. I would gaze into the black places between the stars and feel vertigo of another kind.

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