Monday, April 4, 2011

Chemical Tinged Air

I can be doing the most innocuous of tasks, cleaning tile or walking past a YMCA, and suddenly the powerful scent will hit me and I’m instantly back. Back to every day of every summer I can remember.

I love the feel of the morning stillness, cool enough to feel pleasant before the assault of the desert sun reaches full force. I follow my mom as she unlocks the gates and then into the office, the chemical tinged air comforting only to me.

I strip down to my Care Bear suit, work my sun bleached long hair into a braid, and slather SPF 25 over my tan skin. When I move the straps to smooth in the lotion, it’s like I have on a white suit underneath.

Mom’s first class is for grownups and I don’t feel like getting in yet so I settle on a plastic  lounge chair with a book, watching the shade inch further and further up my body until I’m sitting fully in the sun, the soundtrack my mom’s high pitched shouts of, “KICK KICK KICK.”

Then I help my mom with her Mommy and Me class, helping the toddlers push off my legs with their little feet and paddle to their moms. Then my class starts. I’m the best in my class at stroking all the way across, my long limbs kicking and pulling, my lungs pumping.

Lunchtime means I wrap a big towel around me and settle on the scalding deck with a hot dog, my braid dripping on the concrete, making dark splotches that disappear within seconds.

My friend Megan and I spend endless time in the deep end, taking turns seeing who can dive the deepest, holding our breath until we burst, pushing off the bottom and shooting to the surface. When a diving class starts, we migrate to the shallow end and put diving rings around our ankles, pretending to mermaids. Submarine flips and handstands. Tea parties on the bottom, trying to guess what the other is saying.

We play long into the day until the sun wanes behind the mountains and it’s time to go home. Flips flops slide onto my feet and my towel wraps around my lanky body.

The door handles to my mom’s big blue land yacht are scalding as are the seat belts and leather seats. I sit on my towel to protect my flesh. Since the car has no AC, Mom and I roll down all the windows and let the oppressively hot air blow over us, drying our wet suits, the smell of chlorine still clinging to our skin.


This was a post for the RemembeRED prompt: This week, your memoir prompt assignment is to think of a sound or a smell the reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory.  Don't forget to incorporate the sound/smell of your choosing!

I also added the additional challenge for myself to not use the word “swim” once, even though it’s all about swimming. What can I say? I’m a dork.

37 comments mean you love me:

Suniverse said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I love this post.

You have a gift. Really.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Suniverse oh thank you so much, love! that means a lot. xo

Skye said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I love all your RemembeRED posts! You're so good at descriptive writing. And after your sad childhood memory, it's nice to read some happy ones.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Skye thank you! I thought it was time to share a nice memory too. there have been a couple, but it's so easy to write about the emotional stuff. it's almost MORE challenging to write happy things.

lex [lexinthecity] said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I love this post. It brought back my own memories of summers spent poolside and in the sun.
Your memories make me feel as if I was there too.

Jackie T said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Yep! I was a chlorine rat too! brought back memories for me as well, thanks for sharing <3

Liz said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

This is totally taking me back to summer swim lessons and drying off on the way home, with the windows open in the car!

Lindsey said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I remember summers at the pool. I, too find comfort and nostalgia in the smell of chlorine. Usually, it makes me miss you, cousin. :-)

Kimberly said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

The imagery you created here is so spot on. Love it and it is making me crave a dip in the college pool that is loaded with more chlorine than actual water.

meleah rebeccah said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I really love all your RemembeRED posts too. They are so well written the reader feels like they are there with you.

Isn't it funny how smell is so powerful, it can bring back the most vivid memories?

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@lex [lexinthecity] thanks! writing this, I got really antsy for summer.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Jackie T yay for chlorine rats!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Liz ahhh wasn't it great?

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Lindsey makes me miss you too! all that time at Timberlane. *sigh*

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Kimberly thank you! I'll meet you there. ;)

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@meleah rebeccah what a great compliment! thank you so much!

The Woven Moments said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Brings me right back to my childhood! Loved that feeling of exhaustion after a long afternoon at the pool, the way my lungs felt heavy and the sun so delicious on my skin. Thanks for the memory!

Carina said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Great post! I didn't even notice that you didn't say swim a single time until you mentioned it at the bottom. Very well done. That must have been quite a challenge.

I've also got mine written (renbimo.blogspot.com) and I can't wait to read more at the link up!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@The Woven Moments mmm isn't it wonderful? doesn't it make you want summer to come? :) thanks so much!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Carina thanks a bunch! it really was a challenge. :) I'll have to go read your post now.

Galit Breen said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

There's just *nothing* like summer sun, swimming, wet hair, drying in the car.

You really captured that here. I was brought back to your time, my own and what I hope my own kids connect with summer.

I loved the imagery and unfolding quality of this part: "I love the feel of the morning stillness, cool enough to feel pleasant before the assault of the desert sun reaches full force. I follow my mom as she unlocks the gates and then into the office, the chemical tinged air comforting only to me."

tracy said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh this was lovely. I was totally taken back to those free and easy Summer days at the pool.

Jenna said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I agree with Galit, your particular descriptiveness is just fantastic regarding detail. I love how I could see everything so clearly, and with a child's eye.. particularly the sensations of wet body meeting hot surface! And you're right about the chemical tinged air and how it would not be a scent of comfort and nostalgia to anyone but a child with happy memories of being at the pool often. Well done!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I love the part about tea parties on the bottom!
Your challenge! That's so awesome - great job!

So Who Is The Crayon Wrangler? said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I loved the small details that you used. The feels, smells, sounds...it was perfectly balanced pushing me into the water with you!

Beautiful piece and I walked away from it feeling very nostalgic and peaceful.

amygrew said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

What a great way to spend the summer. You took me right back to my summer swim lessons. I love your lunch break description.

Jennifer said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I agree with nearly everyone here that you did a wonderful job of capturing summer pools days. But what I thought was most interesting was the rhythm of this piece, it read to me almost like a school day, that was broken down into periods, and classes, which made this very peaceful to read. As if you knew exactly what was going to happen at any given moment. Your happiness and feeling of safety really stood out for me.

isaywhatimean said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

This is a beautifully written piece - but what sticks out most to me is the final image you leave us with. The hot car and the two of you still wet, and that scent of chlorine. You painted that picture so clear.

I'm not sure you actually need the first paragraph. It seems like it exists to justify the piece, which is strong and needs no justification. Or perhaps, it's just that it switches so abruptly between now and then that it pulled me away for a second.

Well done!

Miranda said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I was such a water baby as a kid. I miss it. I've begged and begged my husband to let us put in a pool in our back yard and he says no. :(

Thanks for this memory.

Not Just Another Mother Blogger! said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

"I love the feel of the morning stillness, cool enough to feel pleasant before the assault of the desert sun reaches full force."

That is an awesome feeling. You captured that perfect childhood summer day!

DaisyGal said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I love summer and the pool. Love the smell of chlorine that stays on your skin forever when June comes around.
This was so wonderful...so full of a place I could see/feel/ hear and delighted in. Suddenly I can't wait for summer!!!!

logyexpress.com said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Wow, I didn't notice you didn't use the word swim until you mentioned that at the end. I'm impressed. I could totally feel how hot your summers were. And I could smell the chlorine. Very well done. And I totally agree about it being more challenging to write about happy memories...why is that?

The Girl in the zebra pumps said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Love that you did not mention "Swim" yet it came across clearly. This is a great post I also checked out a few of your other posts too. You are a gifted and funny writer. Love the 24k "gift" you won.... how fun!! :o)

Bobbie

Julie said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

This took me right back to my own childhood! You had some great details - the water splotches evaporating from the concrete, the hot seats in the car.

Really great read!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

gah! so I fail in not responding to each of you individually. *sigh* I'm sorry. I fail.

thank you so much for all your comments and concrit and lovely compliments! I read each one. xo

Renee said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

That the smell can return you to an entire day is awesome.
So many details and feelings. So well written.

It made me remember my grandmother taking U's to the public pool years ago.
The chlorine smell lasted forever.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Renee thanks so much! it's really one of the few places I felt safe as a child, so many great memories at the pool. :)

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