But I can't swim! I would think, upset. Knots in my stomach. She would glide under the water near my feet, grab hold, and yank me under. Panic would set in. Off she would go. Content with being left behind I cling to life at the side of the pool, regrouping, spitting, gathering air for the next round. A little playful sibling rivalry? Possibly. Since she was an only child I can only assume she craved it. Looking back I might have been having cravings of my own, eagerly seeking someone older, more "kidwise" to come along and toughen me up.
As time goes by, we grow. It's deep summer. Waves of heat distort views of the valley. A hint of concord grape rides the warm afternoon breeze. We are barefoot, always barefoot. Hot pavement. Too hot for tender, little toes. Heading “home,” snug under one arm, we each carry neatly rolled bath towels. Each towel contains a wet, chlorine fumed, sun-faded bathing suit. A must-have in this hot, sleepy, little town. "The Pool" was a haven. The “social network” of our youth in the ‘70s. Announcements, competition, accomplishments, and relationships flourished there. The vending machine snack hardly touches the oversized hunger pang from hours of hard swimming and play. Faces tight, our eyes are red, we are beat. Exhausted. Slumber soon.
Grandma's tiny home sheltered artful decor and a sense of settle. I remember musical, ticking chimes announcing the time. Velvet petals arranged lazily in the glass pitcher. Grandpa arriving home evident by the squeak and slap sound of the back door hinge. He leans in for a quick, playful smooch. Grandma shoos him away. She's giving him a sideways glance. "Hi squirt," he would say. I stand guard with a shy little grin, steady, ready to flee from the whisker burn headed my way! I reach over, pull hard. Snap! His suspenders my only defense within reach. He pretends to give chase. My heart jumps! More giggles. I head for the backyard.
There she is, my sleepy cousin resting in the grass. I lay beside her. A daisy chain busy in the making. Crickets break into song as the evening sets. I reach for her hand. She knows. I know too. I have to leave. Again, I have to leave. Really? Please, let me stay just a little while longer.