A Great Writing Exercise – The First Place that Comes to Mind

Someone told me to write about “a place,” any place. And so, I did. I think it’s a great exercise, actually – because the image one paints will be sentimental. Certainly, my upcoming graduation makes me nostalgic and nervous – and this feeling taints my vision. Maybe I miss being a kid. Maybe there’s no other way to say it.  

Photo Credit: Unsplash

It was a dark blue swimming pool with reflections I never knew I’d miss. I remember what it was like to be under the water, cold below the summer’s heat, pool lights washing out my skin. I would hold my breath and swim to the deep end, imagining that I didn’t need to come up for air, that I could stay at the dark end of that gradient. I would listen to the muffled music of the adult world play, connected but content with my position at the bottom of the pool. There was this weird sensation of looking up and seeing my hair float above me, one of those moments where you think that’s me. I’m here.Those were the nights of being happy with where I was but also knowing that when I finally decided to come up for air, a warm towel was waiting for me at the edge of the pool. I knew that the people I loved most in the world were going to look up from their eleven-o'clock dinners, put down their glasses of red wine, and smile at me. They were going to smile at me without even noticing the bending of their own lips. Those were the nights of navy skies with stars. Dark, forest green trees. A light brown wooden table. Silver forks and maroon steaks. And a bright red car, famous for its ice cream runs and roofless glory. When my dad drove me around in it, I’d always tilt my head back towards the sky. I’d sit like this the entire ride, seeing the world dance by while I was sitting still. Detached and watching things change. 

Photo Credit: Eric Nash, Skidmore Contemporary Art

I felt nostalgic on those nights, before even knowing what the word meant because I knew that place, that dark blue swimming pool, was special. That it was something to keep. And with age, I’ve found other kinds of happiness. Other strawberry ice creams and new red cars. But whenever I have those underwater flashbacks, I know nothing will compare. I try with everything in me to hold onto them and each time they escape. Perhaps the hardest part is that the dark blue swimming pool still exists. I can still go for rides in the red car with the roof down. I still have the people I love. But when you go to the same places where you can do the same things and then don’t, slowly you realize you’re the one changing and the world is staying the same. They say memories last forever, and maybe that’s true, but memories also tease you--places tease you. They trigger emotions and then take them away before you’re finished.

You can remember, but you can’t re-feel. The dark blue swimming pool is there, but it isn’t mine anymore, it isn’t my friend. It’s part of my past, of my childhood, the blue that was. Its waves are far in the distance. Its coolness now feels cold. All of its reflections are light I cannot hold.

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