Scenes. plural noun. According to Dictionary.com, “A view or picture.”
It’s August. Right now, I (and the rest of the universe) are wondering:
Where did the summer go?
In June when I returned from China, the days trickled by. Slow x’s on the calendar collected day after day. Then July came and someone hit fast-forward, the month exploding like a 4th of July firework, a brilliant flash, and disappearing.
Now I’m back in a dorm room preparing for the start of a new year, trying to remember that it’s still summer and that I am still allowed to go outside. My pool days are reduced to watery scenes, some sunshine and many splashes. I flip through them like photographs.
Children stole my heart. The redhead with freckles sprinkled across his nose, had never jumped in the deep end before. When I caught him, I thought he would grab my hand. Instead he wrapped his little arms around my neck, holding tight and safe. One tiny sweetie looked at me with big brown eyes and gave me flowers at the end of the week. She learned to swim underwater, slim arms clearing the way.
Kids fumbled towards success. One kid, far too old, refused to put his head under. The water inched over his eyes, forehead, hair. He discovered he loved diving for rings and asked to add a few more lessons to his week. I thought I might cry. Timid kids who didn’t like deep water turned brave enough to swim across the deep end by themselves. They quivered on the end of the diving board, clutching noodles and mustering courage. I treaded water below until they popped up relieved and triumphant.
The unexpected startled us. One chatty four-year-old with a buzz cut told me there was a “wat” in the baby pool and asked if we could go get it out. He and his dad had done it before. A kid with strawberry-blonde Einstein hair handed me a grapefruit on the last day of lessons, saying “This is for you,” and trotted away towards the deep end.
Messes happened. The pool heater broke during the coldest week of the summer, when temperatures barely broke 60º. Lips turned blue, mine included. There was pounding rain during one lesson, blinding drops the size of quarters. One kid slipped from his pool noodle, too far from the side. He couldn’t swim. His breath came in shaky gasps when I pulled him onto the deck.
I hold these moments tight, fingers clenched. Like sand, they trickle from my grasp. I want capture every scene, pile them up, a dam to slow the passing of time. It doesn’t work. The summer still canters towards fall, the sunset sneaking in minutes earlier. My days as a college girl still slide past, ticking towards an end that seems both immediate and unthinkable.
When I remember school’s impending beginning, I get nostalgic, clinging to these snapshots of summer. Friends inquire about my break, and I flip through them again. I feel a little guilty about my tight grasp, that I’m not sailing smoothly into the next season, attitude carefree and come-what-may. I feel a little frantic that I might lose them, these seconds that made up my summer and mattered so much in the moment.
But as Madeleine L’Engle says, “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” As the summer spirals on towards the end, these moments aren’t fading like dissipating smoke. Instead, they’re adding to the treasure of summers and autumns and Christmases I’m collecting, one scene at a time.