A Family Trip
You wake up. It’s a Sunday, mid-morning in the middle of July. Your family piles into the car, the air conditioning acting as a brief reprieve from the violent summer heat that the city has been experiencing for the last few weeks. Your denim cut-off clad legs are slick and stick to the seats, sweat pooling on the black leather interior.
You make the pilgrimage 40 minutes north like you do every second Sunday of the month. It goes the same way every-time. Your little sister, immediately puts in her earbuds and listens to whatever new rap single has come out this week, dead to the world. Dad air drums on the steering wheel to the beat of “Modern Love” by David Bowie, and Mum has her eyes closed behind her dark sunglasses, arms crossed over her chest. You are left to your own devices which usually means staring off into space or watching passing cars.
As the car makes it way out of bustling city limits and into a dramatically quieter land of carbon copy 4-bedrooms, all you can think about is submerging your entire body into a body of water for a ridiculous amount of time. Soon. The heat is pure and unadulterated and you assure yourself that you’re much more comfortable in water, despite that you will be half-naked. It feels like a second skin, a better version of yourself that is free of impurities and marks, which is coincidentally what riddles your true physical skin. You remind myself this as you arrive at your destination, tires scraping against the hot asphalt. The street looks as barren as a town from a wild wild west film. A tumbleweed could blow across the concrete and you wouldn’t think twice, however the sheer lack of wind makes this a near impossible feat. Your sister removes her earbuds and joins Mum and Dad on the lawn with beach bags in hand. “Coming?”, she asks, squinting at the sun. You catch your reflection in the car window. Anxiety and panic tug on your sleeve as you cross the street to join the rest of your family in the backyard.
You didn’t know that you would have that much of an audience. An audience that are wholly surprised to see you -- family you haven’t seen in ages struggle and pretend to not look at you which makes you feel like you’re a car set ablaze. Layers quickly are ditched in a corner and your little cousins shriek to join them in the water. Their complete ignorance acts as a phantom force that beckons you to the pool. Feet, shins, knees, waist are submerged and you feel the pressure of the sun and the many eyes watching you on the back of your neck.
Hair slicked back, your cousins play with you and you’re 10 years old again, a time where you didn’t care. You look back and smile at your family sitting under the shade of an umbrella. The heat is still pure and unadulterated and you’re still much more comfortable in water. You still have stretch marks and your stomach is still soft, but you know your better self is not free of impurities and marks. You remind yourself this. You will be fine.