this had been long planned, as of last week (when we went out for vietnamese food), that kristine and i would go visit james at his place in mansfield (south of boston, 40 miles from where i live), where he had a backyard pool perfect for a hot summer day. that day was today, as kristine came by to pick me up. i gave her a quick tour of the place before we went to star market so i could get some drinks for the pool party. i've never been in a car with kristine before, she's the swearing behind the wheels kind of driver. her ride was a mature luxury honda, everything still seems new, cd changer, air conditioning, sun roof, leather seats. i told her the cars most of my friends drive never have this many working features. i could smell the sunblock already, kristine having put it on herself before coming out. in one of the cup holders was a gigantic container of coffee (2 liters worth) that occasionally kristine would pick up and sip through with a straw. during the ride, she told me about her new boyfriend that she met when she went to portland. james provided us with excellent directions (although i still brought a map, just in case), and we got to his place with relative ease, hardly any traffic on the road.

james and jaime gave us a quick tour of their place. in their backyard is a stream, and beyond that nothing but forest. i just wanted to run into the woods, chase after jewelwings (damselflies), look for mushrooms. along the banks grew jewelweed. in front of the house dangled a hummingbird feeder. i saw a hummingbird moth and various birds (only identified some nuthatches). surprisingly, the place was free of mosquitoes (maybe they're not in season anymore). i can't imagine living in a place where the wilderness is right in your backyard, it's like having the best of both worlds. we proceeded to eat, salad, elaborate dip with chips, burgers, and rice krispy treats.

after cleaning up the food, we made our way to the pool. the water was 71 degrees but felt cold. it wasn't too bad once you got in, since it was so hot and humid out. i took some time putting on sunblock, then put on my flippers, before gradually entering the pool from the shallow end. one of the main event this afternoon was trying to teach me how to tread water with my flippers. kristine and james were demonstrating techniques in the center of the pool, different combinations of legs and arms. i took off my flippers and tried to do some treading in the shallow end but i couldn't stay afloat. there's just something, whether it's mental or maybe i don't have my movements sychronized, that keeps me from floating in the water.

kristine tried the flippers and had a hard time treading with them on. once i was wearing them again, i was like aquaman, swimming fast from one end of the pool to the other, impressing my "teachers" with my swimming skills even though technically i can't stay afloat in the water, like somehow i graduated to advance swimming without ever learning to tread water. everyone took turns jumping off the diving board (except for me). james did the most number of jumps, including the "pineapple" which seemed like a stylized cannonball. kristine was afraid of jumping because she was worried that her top might come off (my camera lens trained on her was worried as well) and did a puny dive.

there was also a miniature slide that james had to manually wet down with buckets of water. he was all about the head-first slide, which horrified kristine. i did it once with flippers on (climbing up the ladder was a demonstration of physical comedy), reluctant to go down, grasping at the edges, until the force of gravity and a slippery incline suddenly dunked me gracelessly into the pool, water shooting up my nose.

the combination of the sun and the water started to tire us out, our little pool party coming to a close. james fished out the toys from the pool. we sat around talking, waiting for our clothes to dry naturally. exotic wasps buzzed us in the afternoon sun. i sipped soda from a plastic solo cup. it felt like the last day of school, where you sort of feel that something historical is taking place yet you're not quite sure how to respond, so instead you just sit around. soon it came time for us to go. today would've been the last day our office would be open and here we were, former co-workers, gathering one last time, when we shall all meet like this again is anyone's guess, every person's pursuit of happiness taking them in diverging directions. kristine and i left, encountering surprisingly little traffic (despite the rush hour, although roads coming out of boston were jammed). she dropped me off in cambridge, we said good bye, perhaps the last time i will see her for a while.

i took a hot shower, deciding to shave as well, felt that i needed a facial hair change of pace. i watched the news then fell asleep during the red sox game. i didn't feel at ease though, with a freelance deadline looming and a lot of code work still left to be done, free time is an expensive commodity that i'm starting to be able to afford less and less of. the month of august will not be fun. i am not looking forward to the next few weeks. for dinner, i just had some ramen. i've yet to install the air conditioner, but it looks like an increasingly important appliance to have. the only thing keeping me cool is a little fan blowing in the living room. time for bed. tomorrow awaits.