Wednesday, July 22, 2015

and so it is, another chapter concludes

Last Friday, we closed on our new house in Texas.  This week, our Virginia home has been swarmed by packers who are loading up everything and preparing for the move south this Friday.  In this time and space between moving from one place to another, we've been saying goodbye to so many wonderful friends that we've been blessed to know in our nearly five years in this area.

Like the amazing people we knew in San Diego, our northern Virginia friends will be sorely missed. So rather than dwell on the sadness of moving away from these incredible people, we are trying very hard to revel in the gratitude of having the opportunity to know them, at all.  Even still, I'm sure there will be tears because we really adore our friends.


As I've told the children, life is a book comprised of chapters. Each chapter teaches us something different, and with each chapter, there comes an eventual end.   So while we're in that chapter - it's important to learn what we can, and do our best to enjoy it to the utmost.  Almost daily, I imagine the chapter coming to an end ... and so it is, I've become pretty good at cherishing moments.

Our moments today were epic.  

We spent a sun-drenched afternoon and starry evening, with some of our best friends, at our neighborhood pool.  What I want to sear in to my memory, is the way that we all felt so comfortable with each other, and how we laughed until our cheeks hurt.   I want to remember our beloved friends.  Tomorrow, our last full day in town, we'll be back at the pool with more dear friends who are carving time out of their busy lives, to come spend moments with us, and say "see you later."

Because we absolutely will see them later ... of that I'm sure.


What I also want to sear in to my memory, is the 14-year old son of our good friends, who is an extremely accomplished swimmer, that has been on a year-round swim team for the past five years. Those early morning practices are surely what has contributed to him becoming one of the top swimmers in his club, and the region.  A swimming scholarship for college is likely in his future if he stays on the current trajectory.

Today when we were in the pool, I asked him what was his best stroke, and he responded, "Fly."  As in, butterfly.  Because I absolutely love to talk smack with the kids, I asked him if he thought he could beat me in a race across the pool, and without hesitation he politely said, "Yes, M'am."

So I said, "Really? You really think you can beat ME?" Then I added, "Did you know that I swam a bit when I was in high school?" and his cheeks flushed as he replied, "Um. No, I didn't know that you swam a bit in high school. But yes, I'm pretty sure I could beat you in a race across the pool."  And so I said, "BRING IT."  And he said, "What?"

And I said, "YOU HEARD ME. LET'S GO."

So this young man, on the verge of earning his Eagle Scout rank, made his way to one lane, and I made my way to another lane, right near the edge of the pool. Charlie made his way to the middle of the pool, where with his hands above his head, he shouted, "Swimmers! Take your mark!"  Nearly all the eyes in the pool were directed at me, the mother of four, perched next to the 14-year old ranked regional swimmer, as Charlie yelled, "GO!" and threw down his hands.

The young whipper snapper bolted off the wall so fast, he was an instant blur.  As he did this, I flung myself out of the pool as fast as I could and SPRINTED down the deck of the pool hoping that: 1) the lifeguards wouldn't blow the whistle and publicly chastise me for running; and 2) I wouldn't slip and break a hip. Even running at nearly breakneck speed, I could barely keep up with him in the water.  I made it to the end of the pool, did a shallow dive and free-styled it the last two meters to the wall.

Miracle of miracles,  I hit the wall just an instant before he did, but it was unquestionable - I was there first, smiling at him when he surfaced.  People around us burst out laughing.

The look of absolute astonishment on this young man's face was priceless. PRICELESS.  He stammered, "Wow. Did you say you swam competitively in college? How did you do that? How are you so fast?!" And I replied, "That was nothing ... like a brisk stroll in the park."

He was stunned in to silence, but you could tell he was extremely impressed.

And humbled.  

Because so many of the kids had been swimming behind him, seeing if they could keep up, they were not even aware that I'd run the distance.  All the kids that is, with the exception of my son, William.  He was aghast and said, "MOM, oh my gosh, MOM! You so totally che...." But he didn't  get to finish that sentence because I put my hand on top of his cute little head and playfully pushed him underwater to silence the chap.  Then I pinched his bottom which is my code for, "ZIP IT."


Eventually my conscience got the better of me, and I came clean and told the young man how I'd won.  As I did, I added, "Just so you know, it wasn't really 'cheating', because I challenged you to a race across the pool. But never once did I say I'd SWIM it. Ah, ha! That's what you call a loophole!"

In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have told him.

It'd be fun to end this chapter, as the middle-aged mom who whooped a state-ranked swimmer.