This is a longform post in response to the Discover: Memory challenge. I spent my girlhood riding in the bow of a motorboat, through labyrinths of spartina grass, pulling wet hair from my eyes, licking salt from my lips, gathering sunlight on my freckled skin. My playgrounds were the brown rivers, the salt marshes, the barrier … Continue reading Tidal Playground
My timing partner stood slowly, stopwatch in hand, and stared at the surface in Lane 1. Our swimmer, in Lane 4, crouched in her starting stance, ready to spring off the block, when I turned and saw the body floating in the water.
The teenage form hung limp in her dappled black speedsuit. Her back rounded into a hump that barely broke the surface, and her arms and legs dangled. Her eyes gazed at the bottom of the pool.
She looked relaxed, like she was resting in jellyfish pose while she waited for her heat to begin. I expected her to lift her head, shake the water off her cap, and say, “Okay, I’m ready,” with a big grin on her face.
Instead, her flaccid form floated there, as we all wondered, what the hell?
“She must have passed out,” I murmured, flashing back to times I’ve fainted: at the eye doctor, after blood draws, watching the nurse pull the drain from the gash in my husband’s leg; the slurping sound it made.
Timers, coaches, and neon yellow vests of meet officials crowded the corner of the pool deck adjacent to where the body floated. I recognized a meet marshal with full makeup and a helmet of highlighted hairsprayed hair. She was kind to me that morning when I told her, “I’ve never done anything like this before. I have no idea what I’m doing.” She had smiled a warm smile, cupped the side of my shoulder in her hand, and said, “It’s okay honey, we’ll have a timer’s meeting beforehand to train you. We’re just glad you’re here. Thank you for volunteering.”
Now, she was jumping into Lane 1, feet first, fully clothed. Her hair lifted as her body descended. The white rubber soles of her Converse low tops slapped the water and her arms were clamped by her sides. Another official, a young man with rectangle glasses and dark jeans, plunged in from the adjacent pool deck.
I’ve been reading through my diaries, and have found plenty of scandal that made me laugh so hard I cried*: We all hate Crystal now. Guess what! We’re having a prom! (April 15, 1986; 11 years old) We don’t hate Crystal. I’m glad because she’s a lot nicer than Hilga [who determined who we hated … Continue reading Diary or Memory: Which is the Reliable Narrative?
My Andrea Reads America project is turning out to be more complex than I thought. I am reading my way around the US in three books per state, and my original hope was to read works of fiction written by men, women, and non-Caucasian authors who are natives of the state, or at least lived … Continue reading Where are the ethnic authors?
“Alright, kiddos, we’re changing the structure of your allowances.” I leaned forward on the couch with my elbows on my knees. My hands were clasped, and I opened them to say, “You get a raise with the new year” – our children bounced and clapped their hands – “BUT with the condition that you put … Continue reading We talked to our kids about charity
The grown-ups stood at the front window sipping spiked coffee and doctored hot cocoa. Our entertainment that day was watching Ed, the mail man, bend into the blizzard as he trudged through thigh deep snow to get to our across-the-street neighbor’s wall-mounted mailbox. All the kids entertained themselves by – well, I don’t remember how … Continue reading The perils of winter birthdays