I gotta give shout outs to the kids at the University of Southern California. I'm staying with friends at a house near campus and decided to sign up for the $40 fitness membership for the week. It's not only an amazing deal, it puts me in the middle of a world of 20-somethingness that is so edifying, inspiring, and very funny. Here are some thoughts about the experience.
Olympic Pool #3 - Turns out, USC hosted the swimming competitions at the 1984 LA Olympic Games. Their facilities are gorgeous, sparkling blue beneath the SoCal sunshine. I got to watch diving practice! It's all been very much updated since the 80s and they make it available to the public. Plus, your lifeguards are hard-working college kids and there's something inspiring and good about that. College is so much work but they have jobs in addition to school. Way to go, lifeguards!
My Heavens! - I'm just gonna say it. The first time I approached the pool building I couldn't find my way in because you don't enter by the pool, you enter by way of the gym near the pool. Noted! But, because of that, I ended up asking the first kid nearby to help me. He was cruising on his cruiser bike and, I now realize, was some sort of varsity athlete. He looked like a child of Zeus - golden brown, tall, fit, and weirdly kind. In a hurry, he just kept pointing me in the right direction, let me in a special entrance for athletes, and got me to the women's locker room door. This descendent of the Gods did not give up on his task of helping the lost lady. Go Trojans! I felt very backstage and cool and, also, humbly grateful.
I'm Old-er! - You wanna feel your 40s? Hang out near 20s. They're so lithe and healthy and they don't really care. I'm weirdly fit for my age, in ways, but I remember now my twenties. You glow. You have youth! And, it's good for the world. I also remind myself regularly that my 84-year-old self will long to be my 40-something self and that life is grand for so many reasons.
Tough Neighborhood - I'm living in a neighborhood with couches deposited on sidewalks and broken-down, unkempt areas a'plenty. It's also a place where new money flows abundantly to stunning older homes, repainted and well-landscaped. It's a neighborhood in transition and it's going in one direction: fancy. For now, it's very mixed.
LA - LA, I really love it. So many creative people doing interesting work. They're hustling and I'm accustomed to the quick decision on whether or not I can help their hustle. In almost every conversation in LA you're being evaluated for ways you can or cannot help the person you just met. They need a photographer or they are a photographer and you might help them because of that. It's constant. I've learned to let it happen.
Gym Nerves - I've been a gym attendee since my early twenties. I picked up weight lifting as a way to prevent injuries. Now I use it to keep my body healthy, in general. At USC, there is a strong "check out my body and this lycra situation I've created" energy. People look absolutely fantastic at the gym. Bless them! I'm excited if I match. That said, I get sort of exhausted by all the mirror checks and attempts to be hot. It's like, "Just be your selfie!" everyone! Then again, it's that striving, 20-something vibe that is awesome. They're hungry to do great things, including have cool sneaks and be shredded and swoll.