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Upstate

I was upstate at a birthday party. A nice group of people. At one point someone said, it's hot, let's go swimming in the quarry. So we piled into a caravan of six cars and drove about eight miles. The quarry turned out to be wrapped in a fence and labeled with “No Trespassing” signs. So that option was out. All six cars pulled over to the shoulder and someone found a map and began to look for lakes. No one was in charge—this was more the type of group to build consensus. So there was a lot of discussion. I didn't have much to offer because I'm bad with maps.

After a few minutes a police car drove up. Someone in a nearby house or in a passing car had decided that we were suspicious in our gypsy caravan and reported us. The policewoman did not get out of the car but did roll down her window. The person whose birthday it was ran up to the policewoman and said, how great that you are here! We want to go swimming!

After much prompting the policewoman said, there is a public pool about 15 or 20 miles away. Which made everyone depressed: a long drive to concrete and bright blue paint and chlorine and screaming kids. So even though the map was filled with blue we realized it was getting late and got back into cars and drove back to the city. It was hot, though, and it would have been fun to go swimming.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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