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.
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.
2 years ago