Growing up in Brooklyn in the '70s and '80s was a wonderful experience.
If you've ever seen images of children running through a fire hydrant I'll tell you straight away that that was not me. Not my brother. And not our friends.
We were lucky. We were lucky because we had a pool in our backyard.
It was an above ground pool, 4 feet in depth, and bright blue. Do you know the kind? You have to have seen it. That blue outside and the even brighter blue inside? The water bluer than both of them together.
The white ladder and small step right before you jumped right in.
It always shook. It was so rickety. Never quite steady enough to be fully attached. It never stopped us. Me. It never stopped me.
I'd climb up that ladder without a care in the world.
"Don't run!" I heard my mother's voice.
"Okay!" I would shout back. I couldn't see her, but she was probably roasting on a lawn chair out of my line of sight. Slathered up in oil without a trace of SPF. The scent of coconut gave her away. That's the way things were back then.
My dad? My dad was either in the pool waiting for me, or on the other side of the yard standing at the BBQ. And I don't mean gas grill, either. It was charcoal and lighter fluid or nothing else for us back then. There's nothing like the smell of charcoal heating up before it hits the flames.
Back then I ate whatever was put in front of me. I ate hot dogs, hamburgers, with cheese, without. I can't imagine that grilling back then was anything like the ensemble my parents pull together now on the gas grill on their porch. Sausage pinwheels, chicken or turkey (which is all I eat as a grown gal). Slathered in sauces. There's even a brush!
But when I was a child there was my dad, standing in his swimsuit, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, flipping burgers with a spatula and a fork.
Clean up was full of paper plates with grease marks, leftover buns we'd toss to the birds, just in time to make way for watermelon.
Watermelon. The juice dripping down, spilling all over us. Paper napkins sticking to our unblemished and sun-kissed faces. Sticky hands. We'd tear right through it and ready ourselves for more time in the water.
"Wait!" We'd stop. Freeze. Me, ahead of the pack, the oldest. My brother hiding out in the basement. My cousins right behind me. Our slender bodies ready to jump again. Dive. Play Jaws. Looking over at my mom. My aunt. My dad finishing his cigarette.
"30 minutes," she'd shout from her spot in the grass. Sitting up, sipping water, I could see the lines of the chair imprinted in her skin.
"Yes," a chorus now. All the adults would chime in together.
We'd make our way down the ladder. Backwards.
"Oh-kayyyy." A chorus in return. Young voices, listening to their mothers.
We'd make our way around the outside of the pool, glancing over with longing. Heading down to the basement before we could come back out, rinse off our feet with the hose at the steps and dive back into a world of total blue.
** This is a response to this week's Remembered prompt over at The Red Dress Club. **