I saw a woman yesterday at the shops, and she looked so familiar, but I couldn't quite place her.
As she turned to leave I suddenly remembered. We had seen each other every Monday afternoon at the Uni pool for years, but had never spoken, only nodded maybe, occasionally. Our sons had been approximately the same age, I suppose, and they both had lessons at the same time although they were not in the same class.
We had both taken our little boys into the women's change-room and knelt beside them, helping to dry their tousled hair, rummaging in the bag for the undies, the tracksuit, the ugg-boots. In my memory it is always winter. And there is always at least one mother there who is dressing her kids in pyjamas, even though it is only 5 in the afternoon, and me smiling at her and understanding that, yes, it does make perfect sense, SO much easier.
I can feel my little son's soft, pudgy legs as I write this. I can feel the way the tracksuit would stick to the skin a bit, from the dampness. I can smell EXACTLY how his hair smelt of musty chlorine as I kissed it, because he was being such a good boy and not running around the room like a complete maniac, as he did last week.
When I saw that woman at the shops yesterday, I noticed that she had a tall boy standing beside her, and I thought how strange it was that I had never realised back then that she had an older son as well. Then it hit me, that boy was her little boy, of course, because my little boy is also as tall as me now. Of course. Of course.
Now I'm remembering those swimming lesson days, and I yearn to go back and just once, just once, see again the way my son's pale, pudgy body, clad in teeny-tiny speedos, races ahead of me as I worry that he will slip and fall.
Which is really so odd, and bittersweet, and confusing, because I clearly remember that I hated swimming lesson days, at the time.