Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Looking through the years

Monday afternoon, I was in the pool for my usual Aquafit class.
It was "cool down time" - the last few minutes of the session.
We held our "noodles" overhead gently swaying from side to side.
"Look over your left shoulder. Hold for few seconds. Now your right," intoned our teacher.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a group of school-aged children sitting quietly on chairs over by the deep-end. When did they come in? I didn't hear them. I wonder what they're doing here?

"Thank you everybody, and have a nice afternoon".
With a start I realized the class was over.
Good! Now I'll sneak in a few minutes of leisurely swim, while the elders meander towards the pool stairs. No point everybody clogging up the exit.

I was almost at the pool steps, when all of a sudden I heard great shrieks and splashes!
Those children who were so politely seated, waiting by the side of the pool were leaping into the deep-end with an abundance of enthusiasm! They all had flippers and flutter boards and noodles and goggles.

A huge grin lit up my face. It was so refreshing to see these bundles of energy letting loose and having fun. Looking around at my classmates, I noticed some smiling, others frowning.

Oh, the exuberance of youth. I watched for a few minutes, thoroughly enjoying the flailing arms and legs, unselfconsciousness, and playful energy that had taken possession of this group of schoolkids. In those last moments while us plumpish, crooked, elderly ladies were exiting the pool, some of the braver young souls had already swum to our side of the pool.

I looked at a young girl, her eyes distorted by a pair of swimming goggles. What does she see as she watches the slow progression of old ladies towards the locker room. Two "hip replacement" ladies walk with canes. A few others plod along; no rush. Some walk with an antalgic gait. All bodies are well worn with age.

Does she see her future?

Looking away from her, I let my eyes drift down to the end of the pool, where the mass of shrieking, jumping, splashing, youngsters were at play - totally soaking up the moment.
We were all young once. Back then our bodies were lithe and quick, just like these kids. We could dive and swim with total carefree abandon, as they were doing now.

Back and forth, back and forth, my eyes slid from the youngsters to the oldsters. An eerie feeling spread over me, as if I could erase Time.
Vivid memories of my own girlhood washed over me. My hair in pigtails, shorts and t-shirt, pedaling my bike down the street as fast as I could. Spending hours in the woods, picking flowers, climbing trees, picnicking. Skipping rope after school. Hopscotch. Hide-and-seek. Roller-skates, wearing the key on a string around my neck. Running to the corner store with my weekly allowance of 10 cents. 10 cents in those days bought a chocolate bar. Thinking I'd never be old.

Old? That was for grandmothers. That wouldn't be for years and years and years!
Well those years have come and gone.

And here I stand, dripping in my bathing suit, looking back down the years towards today's youth, enjoying their March break.


Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Wendy--And the years do go by quickly, don't they??? But--as much as I'd like to have the energy of a young one, I would NOT want to go back and live through those years again. I'll take my life as it is now--even with all of the wrinkles and aches and pains. ha


Wendy said...

Hi Betsy,
Oh, sometimes I long for those carefree, golden days of my youth. And othertimes I'm glad they are long past. It's nice to be happy where we are.

Beverly said...

Wendy, you paint such beautiful word pictures. I can just see everything you wrote about.

white_lilly said...

That was amazing I could also see a pictures as you wrote and they are the things we wonder when we see the elderly, will I be like them in years to come and I look back to the younger years of such energy and of being carefree.

JeanMac said...

A beautifully written post, Wendy.

Robbin'sMama said...

A great post, that I can totally relate to.

Maggie May said...

I was enthralled by this post, Wendy. I was right there with you.
Trouble is...... I never did learn to swim, so I would probably have drowned!
It is amazing how the years roll by! Children really don't connect to aging at all. They are invincible and think that they can go on like that forever.

Mimi said...

This was incredibly well written. Such a vivid scene. Thanks.

Abba's Girl said...

Your childhood memories sound like mine w/ the exception of how we spent our allowances, I bought Sweet Tarts in the winter and snow cones in the summer. Blessings to you.

Rose said...

Such a beautiful and poignant post, Wendy! I often think much the same...there's still a 16-year-old somewhere inside of me:) Sometimes I think I'd like to go back in time and do it all over again, but only if I had the wisdom I had now. But it doesn't work that way, does it?

Shammickite said...

I had a wonderfully happy childhood, and I look back on those years with fondness and pleasure. Yes, I'd love to be a little girl again. But there have been many ups and downs in my life and I wouldn't want to repeat them. I'm active, mentally and phisically, and I intend to stay that way... dancing, swimming, enjoying my family, I'm still a little girl on the inside!
Children don't consider aging.... I remember as a child wondering if I would live long enough to see the year 2000! Here I am 9 years into the next century and still going strong!

beckie said...

Wendy, what a wonderfully written post. I could see the youngsters and the oldsters! My hope for them is they realize how quickly time passes and to make the most of each day. All too soon the days will get so short. Ahh, if we knew then what we know now.

Allie said...

Wendy! This is beautiful!

Q said...

Dear Wendy,
Please hand me a towel...I am dripping wet! I am right there with brought me right in.
You are a marvelous writer.
Thank you.
I love my life...I would like some of the energy of the youth.
Wonderful post.

Wendy said...

Hi Beverly, thank you. You can always join me in the pool. LOL!

Hi White Lilly - I too look at older women and wonder if I'll have their strength, stamina, weakness, or whatever. I guess life is a puzzle.

Thanks JeanMac.

Hi Robbin's mama - thank you. Will check out your blog.

Wendy said...

Hi Maggie May - oh, sometimes I have days where I feel invincible. I still have vivid memories of childhood and how I thought I could do anything! Ah well, and then we grow up.

Hi Mimi - thanks for stopping by.

Hi Annette - oh I can think of other things too, like red shoestring licorice, candy necklaces, popsicles, jelly babies, gum drops, humbugs, peppermint twists........

Hi Rose, I sometimes think along those lines too. No, life is not like that. Oh well.....

Wendy said...

Hi Shammickite, oh I remember that 2000 milestone. In grade 5 (I think) one of my teachers had us calculate how old we'd be when the new millenium rolled around. Most of us couldn't even imagine being that old!! And now here we are, 9 years past.

Hi Beckie - you hit that nail on the head - if we only knew then what we know now! No, young people don't think about aging and really they shouldn't.

Hi Allie - thank you.

Hi Sherry, sure, do you want the pink towel or the aqua one? It was fun! Yes, I miss that energetic spontaneousness of youth, but you can't always be young, can you?

Amy said...

I love the new blog design, Wendy, and of course this lovely, lovely post, too.

Cheryl said...

Hi is great that you could watch the children having fun, and still remember how wonderful it is to be so young and full of life.....
I must say in all honesty I am enjoying my pathway to older age.....I have learnt such a lot, I would not want to go back to the insecurities of youth.....age has many advantages.

Have a wonderful weekend.....hope hubby is ok.....

Wendy said...

Hi Amy - thanks for stopping by.

Hi Cheryl, I am glad you are happy where you are in life. So many are not. Have a good weekend too! Hubby is doing fine these days, thanks.

peppylady said...

Your water class sounds fun.
But you might self hypothesize your self by accident.
I wish I knew how to do it on my own.
I guess it can help people over come things in there life.

Coffee is on.

amelia said...

I remember when I was a kid, thinking about the year 2000 and the fact that I didn't have to even think about it because it would never come...

It came and went...

Wendy said...

Hi peppylady, I love my aquafit classes. They give me an opportunity to exercise my body gently - without strain. I don't do much exercise in winter, so really need this.

Hi Amelia - oh yes, I remember those days in school, trying to figure out how old I'd be in the year 2000. Ha! Come and gone, as you say.