Chlorine, Anxiety and Memories


My arms are sore, the good sore, but the kind that makes washing ones hair a little painful. I smell like chlorine even though I ran and then took a shower after the pool. I get small whiffs of it when my hands are near my face.

Strangely, I like it.

It reminds me of summers when I was young and spent my whole time off school at my grandparent's house in San Diego. Most of my waking hours were in the pool; even lunch was eaten poolside, peanut butter falling on my tanned legs as I stared at the pool, waiting to get back in (but always having to wait a half an hour because my grandma wrote all the old wives tales). No one could drag me out of that pool, unless my grandma said we were taking a grocery trip to the Navy base. The grocery store on the base had a hot dog cart and ice cream and it was so much cooler than going to the grocery store at home, plus grandma let me have anything I wanted. She is a tough lady, but I was (am) her Achilles, especially when it came to ice cream sandwiches for the big freezer in the garage.

Those summers were the best. Before jobs and boys and all those other stupid things that got in the way of my yearly pilgrimage to their house. It was my connection to my roots, if I ever really had any. I lived in Truckee and then Reno and went to school and had friends, but San Diego felt like home to me. The ugly green plaid couch of in my grandparent's living room was where I was the most comfortable. I missed my mom, sometimes so much it got overwhelming and I would cry and think I wanted to go home but then grandma would offer an extra ice cream sandwich, a visit to the zoo, a chance to go watch Bed knobs and Broomsticks in her room on her big, soft bed. And then there was nowhere else I wanted to be.
There was no fighting there; my grandparents have been married over sixty years and they could not be more perfect for each other. They nag and pester but they love each other so deeply and never, ever showed anything but love and admiration for each other. They are still this way and it makes me wish I would have emulated their relationship instead of others.

There was less anxiety, in a time that I didn't even know what it was, but I look back and think about being carefree, about sleeping through the night without waking  up and listening for the fighting, I think about the faint smell of chlorine and that glob of peanut butter on my leg and I can almost feel my current anxiety lifting.

Who knew that signing up for this triathlon at such a ridiculously stressful time in my life would be such a good idea, when really it seemed like a kind of ridiculous idea. Fifteen minutes in the pool was short, but it was fifteen minutes where I wasn't worrying about the call last night that the lender needs just one more inspection report, one more extension, probably the last because people are getting anxious. Trust me, I know, I am anxious.
I want to pay the balance on our new couch but am scared to do it now. I want to keep packing up our bedroom but feel superstitious. But in that pool, this morning and through the whiffs of chlorine I can go back to those summers and harness some of that warmth on my face, those ice creams with my grandpa when we were supposed to be coming straight home from an errand, those times of less anxiety and more living in the moment.

It is these feelings that I will conjure, with my hands near my face for that wonderful memory smell, and when this crazy process of home buying is all said and done, I will keep the promise to myself to get back to those feelings more, to enjoy those whiffs of calm.

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