As a kid, what did you look forward to most about summer vacation/break/holiday?
I was probably a year old -- maybe two -- when Mom took me to Mom 'n' Tot swimming lessons. I swam ever after.
When I was six, we moved to Houston and the neighbourhood swimming pool was right across the street.
That first summer, I went to the pool all the time. I took lessons, I swam with new friends, I learned to dive off the high dive.†
I saw the kids in their team suits, compelling crayon red with a white stripe and red maple leaves down the sides.‡
The next summer, I asked to join the swim team.
Dad said, "That's fine, but you have to stick with it the whole season. You can't just join for the suit."
Dad knew me pretty well. Somewhere between shocked he had seen into my black little heart and hurt he'd think I'd do such a thing, I insisted I really wanted to swim.
When I first started, I could barely swim from one end of the pool to the other. By the end of the season, I was swimming up an age group.§ And all season I had to tie the straps of my hard-won suit with a shoelace¶ to keep them from falling off my short, slight little frame.
I swam the next summer too.#
The summer after that, we moved back to Colorado, to the mountains where there were no swim teams.
In the sixth grade, we moved to a neighbourhood in the Denver suburbs. It had a pool and a swim team.
I swam for a couple of years. I even did pretty well until my boobs got in the way.††
Then I went to work every summer and summers just haven't had the same cachet.
†FOOTNOTE (crossed): "Just keep your hands in fists," said Dad. Works pretty well, but if you forget... it's like a belly-flop on your head.
‡FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): We looked SO Canadian.
§FOOTNOTE (swerved): And at the end-of-season party, one of the teenaged girls on whom I had an enormous little girl crush tried futilely to arrange my curls into some semblance of order while we were in line for hot dogs. "I think you should get Most Improved," she said. I had no idea there was such a thing. I was thrilled with the compliment from my hero, but slightly crushed -- I thought I'd been a *terrific* swimmer from day one.
¶FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): Anybody else do this when you were a kid? I'm sometimes tempted to do it with my bras nowadays. Damned sloping shoulders...
#FOOTNOTE (pounded): See, Dad? Not just about the suit.
††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): Don't boobs often get in the way of good, clean fun? I said, "clean."