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The ‘merican Flag

September 1, 2011

Late this morning, Henry and I went swimming during one of our last opportunities this summer. It was lovely. The little boy swam (or rather, was carried in the pool by me) until his lips turned a deep purple and his teeth knocked together.

“Aren’t you cold, honey? Should we get out?”

“No I am warm. Not cold. Just warm.”

Chatter chatter chatter.

Finally we get out, and as I change back into first my skivvies, and then my civvies, he looks around the chipped orange and blue gymnasium that serves as the changing room for the Red Hook recreation center.

He points at a basketball hoops. “That’s a net!” he says. Wow, that is a net. One net (he looks at one net, and points, then swivels on a heel and points to the opposing net down the length of the gym) “two net,” (swivels back to the first) “and three net! Three nets!” He counts to three when there are only two four or five times.

His focus shifts. “That’s a flag,” he states, pointing to a large American flag.

“Yes, that’s an American flag,” I offer.

“It’s very very great, the ‘merican flag,” he explains, gravely, to me.

Then, “It’s orange and green and white, the ‘merican flag,” he mutters, explaining the flag to himself this time.

“Hmm,” I say, wondering for the zillionth time if he’s color blind. “What shapes are on it?”

I am confident that he is not shape blind.

“Stars, lots of stars. There are one two three four five six american flag seven eight nine ten stars . . . and STRIPES!”

When I am at the pool, I can’t help think of how different things will be next summer, with a bigger Henry and a smaller baby. Will we be able to go to the pool? I remember swimming there during evening lap swim while pregnant with Henry, dragging my tired body through the water, being defensive at the lithe and hairless swim men behind me, and wondering how life would change for Matthew and I the next summer, when we couldn’t simply meet for a swim after work a few nights a week. The first year with Henry, we actually did do that. We switched off watching him on the deck while the other did laps.

That’s not possible, now. Matthew works late and anyway, Henry’s too big and vocal to sneak into adult-only swim times. No more evening laps and then dinners out, which is how our relationship began. I miss that part of my life, though I like this one.

So, I may miss the pool and the way it was this year. I will certainly miss this particular brand of conversation, which has evolved to where it is now, and will evolve to something else so soon.

Goodbye, this summer. You were so nice in so many ways.

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