Remember swimming? Going to the pool for open swim on Monday nights, with the kick-boards and the pool noodles and the clamor? Wearing the skin off your toes on the rough cement floor?
That sickening belly-flop feeling.
That panicky I-went-too-deep feeling.
That horrible high-dive-what-was –I-thinking feeling.
You could pick people up in the pool – even really big people like grownups. I mean, you could actually lift them, not take them out on a date. You could do flips and handstands. You could float.
Remember those oversized lifeguard chairs and that big giant clock?
Our hair would freeze when we walked out to the car – even our nose hairs. Our eyes would burn and itch because, for some reason, they never got the chlorine levels quite right in Seward. We would lay on the living room couches, disinfected, damp and exhausted and my mother would listen to the silence and thank God yet again for swimming pools.
In college, there was a short time when Sam and I would go swimming every morning. This was a big step for us – Sam with her fear of sharks and Jessi with her fear of exercise. But it was good, using all those childhood strokes. Listening to my thoughts underwater.
I’ve started swimming again, here in Bath.
It has worked out pretty well, although people don’t take as kindly to a grown woman showing off her aquatic strength.
“Put me down!” they bluster.