Growing up, summer meant days spent at Rheme Pool. I pinned my pool pass to my towel, pulled on my shorts over my bathing suit, slipped on a pair of flip flops, and off I went. I returned home with crunchy hair and eyes so red it hurt to blink.
I loved swimming. I loved doing handstands, diving, skimming the bottom like a mermaid. I didn’t love the hourly 15 minute rest period, but that’s when I’d pull out 15 cents from my shorts pocket for a Super Rope. (The only reason I brought the shorts was to store my candy money.) On the way out of the pool, I stuck 35 cents in a vending machine for a pack of Wintergreen LifeSavers. I’d eat them on my walk home.
I always stopped for a minute on the overpass and watch the cars zoom toward the city. I loved the sounds of the cars and the el. I loved the feeling of the summer evening air on my shoulders, the smell of chlorine and sun on my skin, and I loved the taste of mint and sugar that sliced through it all.
I write this now while outside my window I can hear the crank and bounce of diving boards, the swim team coach’s voice, water splashing, and kids yelling and laughing. They are the sounds of summer and both my girls are now participating in it.
This morning I told them at least 250 times to put on sunblock. I hovered nearby to make sure they ate their fruit and also breakfast with enough protein and carbs to fuel them for swimming. I told them both to put their glasses inside the pocket of their swim bags and not to toss them on the concrete.
I am tired from saying all these things, all the time.
A memory: My mom took me to Lake Michigan’s Oak Street Beach where the skyline was to our back and water so blue spread so wide was in front of us. We placed our beach towels down and walked to the shore to test the water, and my mom put one arm around me, and with the other, pointed to the horizon.
“See where the sky meets the water?” she asked.
“Yes,” I told her, the line visible before me.
“That’s as far as you’re allowed to go,” she said.
We both laughed and the line shook, blurring.
My girls will come home from swimming famished. They will pour walnuts into a bowl, slather Nutella on graham crackers, one of them will slice a cucumber to share, the other will rinse off grapes.
The will eat in their bathing suits, their hair crunchy and their eyes red. The house will smell of chlorine and sunshine, and I will place a handful of peanut M&Ms on the table for each of them, then hang the towels they’ve dropped on the floor on our back yard deck, in case they want to swim again.
Write a poem about swimming, the pool, the beach, or water, but place a parent or parental figure in your piece.
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Twirl is writing magic.
“This book is writing gold. This book, like all of Callie’s writing, makes me sit up and pay attention to my life. She reminds me why I write my own stories—fiction and non-fiction—to make sense of the world, my thoughts, my dreams, my reflection, etc. She reminds us that real life, our every day ordinary lives, are beautiful and worth taking a closer look. There’s always more to learn about ourselves and not everything has to have a bow tied on top. We don’t always have to arrive when we think we’ve reached the end, and TWIRL is such a beautiful reminder of that. There’s magic in this book.” – Tracy Erler