The ocean is too rough for us little kids but the gullies are perfect. Wading and splashing in the pools warmed by the sun getting sand in every crevice. Sunburned nose and shoulders. My cousins and I making dribble castles on our legs and burying each other in the sand. Trying to catch periwinkles, being captivated and terrified of the strange creatures with pink shells that wriggle through our fingers and dig back into the sand.
Spending whole days at the pool. Toes raw from pushing off on the bottom of the pool, racing my father under the surface to see who can get further before taking a breath. Trying to convince the impossibly old high school kids that work there how cool I was by coming up with new jumps and biggest splashes. Eating dinners on patio tables as the pool empties and the sun sets.
My sister and I getting our life guard certification, excited about our first jobs. Sitting in the sun day after day comparing flip flop tans, playing with the camp kids. Desperately trying “not” to get thrown in by cute boys. Teaching strokes to goggled kids who don’t listen no matter what you do.
Weeks at the shore spent with cousins in the ocean. Body surfing the biggest waves we can find. Swimming out so far I start to scare myself imagining whales under our feet. Floating on the salt water with the tide until our moms and aunts whistle and wave us back in.
Swim team and then triathlon training. Loud echos in hot steamy indoor pools. Races where the silence of being under is punctuated by cheers coming up for breaths. Swim cap pulling the hairs on the back of my neck. The full body soreness that accompanies using every muscle to pull yourself forward.
Packing for vacation. Taking my son to the same shore to play in the same gullies.
Sitting in the wading pool. Watching him gleefully splash and then jerk his head back, confused by the drops that hit his face. The smell of sunscreen in his hair as he sleeps on me in the shade. Seeing his puzzled looks as his dad disappears under the water and then hearing his squeals of joy as he sees him emerge from the depths. Eating dinners on patio tables as the pool empties out and the sun sets.