Just as usual, we showed up early to Alumni Weekend, the first family to set up camp on the stretch of river in front of the boathouse that wasn't there when I was a student.
We putzed about the shore while we waited for friends and familiar faces. I had a few relatively quiet hours of contemplation while my kids took naps, jumped off the floating docks, played with plastic dinos in the sand. It was a strange experience, being in a place I was once so young and unformed, now with four children and more than my fair share of laugh lines.
Almost as soon as we got there I regretted the fact that we wouldn't be staying all weekend. Although we usually park ourselves on our spot for three days running, this year we had to leave Friday night because Saturday was filled with soccer tournaments and restaurant shifts. But we made the most of the hours we had, eating St. James pizza and drinking Natty Boh's.
The memories of these early summer weekends have started to take on as much nostalgic weight as the three years I went to college there. Arlo has been alive longer than I was a student. The lengths of time are like an apple and an orange. How can I compare them? Time moves at different rates. It feels completely different.
I waited until after sunset to jump in to the water with Joanna, but our swim was cut short because Alamae was screaming from the dock, inconsolable after her mother abandoned her with a splash. But even now, three days later, I can still feel the river water on my skin. Those moments swimming to shore, navigating around oyster beds eager to slash my feet to bits, those were my favorite.
Saturday was spent on the blazing soccer field dreaming of shade, wishing my son would lose his first game so that we wouldn't have to stay on for the next. My wish was not granted, however. They won and Gus scored a goal, which almost made it worth it. His little hop and the look on his face as he turned around to see his family, thumb up as he does.
On Sunday, after church, we went to visit Claire and Andrew and Jeffrey, with the intention of helping them pack. They're moving back to the Beach this week. However, packing plans were abandoned in favor of heading to Andrew's sister's pool for the afternoon. Arlo was the oldest of the six kids playing on the steps and hanging in the shade. It was a simple, merry scene, that has resulted in a renewed effort to beg our father to put a pool in our parent's yard. Because while I prefer to swim in natural bodies of water, around here they become inaccessible during the height of the summer. And I just don't understand a summer without swimming.