It’s another impossibly hot day and I sit by the steps of the pool, trying to catch my breath after swim drills. Beside me is my five-year-old nephew, Valiant, with cheeks perpetually so plump and red I call him the little apple pretending to be a little boy. From out of the blue he suddenly blurts: “Tita Lucy, I want day off.” He is serious, and is gazing far off into the distance. Everyone within hearing distance bursts out laughing. My swim coach Bea prods him, asks when he wants his day off. October, he says decisively, after some thought. This was last week. Last night I asked him again when his day off was. Pausing long enough to stop being Superman in rain boots (he alternates between being Superman and Spider-Man on any given day), he says it is now “March 88-9.” “October is after March,” he explains before running off again to play with Vanilla, the new dog.
My Juliana is 14 years old already, almost as tall as I am, and I remember her at Valiant’s age — chubby, too, with bright eyes, a curious mind, sweet ways, very funny thoughts rolling off her tongue. I smile at today, wishing I would always remember it exactly the way it is — my funny nephew, a nice day in the pool, the summer heat, swimming lessons I take to push myself out of my comfort zone, my own teenager coming home from volleyball training, making us both rich milkshakes.