I don't recall being aware of how incredibly hot Texas was until high school. It's as if someone flipped a switch, and I suddenly realized how much I despised sweating or the way in which my hair would cling to my face. Still, memories of swimming pools and summers spent in the water have been a part of my story since my beginning.
Summer after summer being driven to lessons at the San Angelo Municipal Pool, a cool Pueblo-style building built during the '30s by the WPA. It's where I learned all those fancy strokes and eventually took the lifesaving course where you learn to take off your jeans and turn them into a flotation device. All the while my grandma watched from stadium-like steps along the side.
I remember my eyes, red from heavy doses of chlorine, and how I wore that embarrassing nose clip to keep from inhaling water. Quickstepping across the sizzling concrete trying to avoid scraping up the bottoms of my feet. I know they made it rough to prevent slipping, but wasn't it painful?!
The just-for-fun swimming trips were always to Brown's Pool. It was on "our" side of town and right next door to a trailer park. The dressing rooms were grungy, but they had the best tubes for floating and a high dive. Note my graceful diving skills in the photo above.
There was the above-ground pool we had in the back yard with the deck built by my grandpa (see backwards swan dive above) and afternoons spent floating on my back, looking up at the clouds. A couple of summers even involved competitive swim club at a local high school. As I grew up, there were pool parties at my friend Cindy's and perhaps a bit more self consciousness at the thought of putting on a swimsuit and actually getting in the water.
A part of me will always associate summer with concrete and chlorine.