Entering the past

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Deep summer. I raise my hand to shield my eyes and smell orange blossoms. Traces of sunscreen streak my arms.  I stand in a swimming pool, waiting, watching the sunlight shatter again and again on the surface of the water. I can’t say for sure what I’m waiting for.

 

My hair turned green from the chlorine one summer long ago. Day after day I dipped below the surface, swimming through the hours, under the freckling sun. I counted swimming as bathing. I think about that summer and the things I can’t remember but want to. I rummage through my memories looking, find a page torn from a book, a faded photograph of someone I vaguely remember, but no name is written on the back. My past is the long chain of days I drag behind me.

 

A child stands on the edge of the pool, jumps, and splashes near me. I remember diving off the high dive when I was only six or seven. Into the deep. Unafraid.

 

A woman calls to the child to get out of the pool. I remember mother warning me that my lips were blue, and I needed to warm myself on the hot cement.  I turn and look behind me, but nothing is there.  The past is here, not behind.

 

I look at my feet; my legs below the surface disconnected to the part of my body above the water. I touch the boundary, the water’s skin freckled with light that divides air and water; the light bends, and nothing below looks the same again. What if time isn’t measured in length, but in depth? Perhaps I have stepped into the pool of time, and as I walk deeper into the future, more and more of me is in the past below. Eventually, the past will completely swallow me up.

 

I stand, staring at my legs, displaced by light. I cannot align them with my body, but I can feel them. I let them carry me deeper.

 

Someone calls my name. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and dive into the cool water, heading for the other side.

 

29 thoughts on “Entering the past

  1. These are the snippets of memory that I most enjoy in your writing. Beautiful. Thank you for writing things that I have experienced…calling them up to mind causes me to feel young.

  2. What if time isn’t measured in length, but in depth? There’s a thought worth following. When I was a kid I was always in the water too. Not so now; I have little interest in it. And now I see through your writing that I don’t want to go to the past, to be swallowed up by it. I want to keep going forward, to keep my head above the water. By this writing, you’ve given me the gift of that realization.

  3. But isn’t that what life is all about, keeping one’s head above water for as long as we possibly can? A found a lot to smile about in this particular post.. I remember jumping into the 10′ pool by mistake and realizing I really could swim and fast…lol

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