Tuesday, July 17, 2012
This hasn't been a good summer for t-ball. With temperatures approaching 100 again today, we opt to skip out on standing in a yellowing field in the hot sun, boys kicking dirt into asthmatic clouds. We strap our "noggles" to our heads, instead, and practice swimming in the lopsided, eight foot circle pool that has saved our lives, this summer.
Louisey mostly whines and holds on to the side saying, "I wanna get out," and I tell her, "No, you don't! We're having fun!" You'd think she would know fun, but she's a stinker, that one. So, I suit her up in all manner of blow-up and floaty devices, her poor little arms stuck out at her sides and the rest of her body wedged soundly into a blow up turtle ring with a squeaking head. I say, "Swim to mommy!"
She declines by saying, "No sank you," fistfuls of the inflatable pool edge perpetually gripped in her tiny hands.
I borrow her goggles, since she can't bend her arms to stop me, and strap them to my face. They're blue circles with plastic dolphins jumping over each eye cavity. I'm also wearing a two piece bathing suit. I've long ago lost my shame in front of the neighbors.
"If you want to look like a dolphin," I tell Scouty, "you have to stick your butt up really high when you first dive under."
"Like this?" she asks, flailing around like an injured baby walrus under the water for a moment, and then emerging in an adorable spray of watery kid-spit and boogers. She is a water kid. Her teacher at summer camp calls her the water fairy. I know this thing, being the water fairy. This determination to stay under the water as long as possible, to float and bubble and prune. I'm still a water kid, even though I'm all grown up.
"That was good," I say. "Except, watch my butt."
I dive under the water gracefully, feeling my great, red butt cresting the surface of the water. It feels good to be here, like this. I like the silence. I like seeing my girls' chubby little feet through the goggles. I stay like this for an extra second, the fabric of my bathing suit bottoms starting to dry in the sun, that's how committed I am to this position. I remember being a kid, how nobody could swim like me. I would enter a body of water at the sun's first light, and leave it only to eat and use the bathroom, and sometimes not even then. I feel like I'm in a cocoon, like I'm a baby and all the world is muffled and blue.
I arch my back and tuck my giant mom-ass back under the water, sliding my head and shoulders into the light and sound of the actual world.
"Wow," Scouty tells me. "You really looked like a dolphin. Your butt was really up there."
"Thank you," I say. "I know."
I catch a movement out of the corner of my eye and realize that our neighbor is standing on her back deck, hovering over us and scowling.
She's a mystery to me. She would corner me, when we first bought our house, by standing up there, getting a full view of our yard over the hedges, and talking and talking to me. I felt rude going inside, but I'm not really the neighborly type. I always made an excuse about having errands to run, baffling a little toddler Scout, after getting her excited about playing in the yard. "Why are we going in?" she would ask. Her confusion justified, as it probably took us about four hours to get dressed, sunblocked and to find her other sandal so we could go outside.
"Because," I would say. "It's too neighbory out here."
The neighbor baked us a zucchini bread once.
Over time, she's become distant and silent. Now, she doesn't even say hi when we meet. I wonder if she disapproves of the way I've let the flower beds go to shit. I want to ask her if that's why she stopped talking to me, but I never do. I assume it's because I'm so terrible at making the leap from small talk to actual person talk and she got tired of waiting around for me.
I know she was watching my dolphin dive. I wish she would laugh and I could laugh and it would be a funny, suburban exchange, but she's cold. I take Louisey's goggles off. They threaten to suck out my eyes for a moment. I like the feeling. The neighbor goes inside.
I linked this post up with Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary's Just Write. Do you have a minute to do some free writing today? (You know you do.) Link up, too and find some great writers (and friends) in the process.