I don’t have that dream.

I have a different one.

I’m standing poolside. Wearing a speedo (women’s, not men’s it’s not that kind of dream). Someone comes running over to me. “Emily, you’re about to miss your heat! You have to run, now!”

But I’m not eligible to swim! I’m so not 18! I can’t find my bag to get my cap and goggles. I haven’t been to a practice in 5 years. This has got to be a joke. I’ve heard of filling lanes before, but this is ridiculous.

I used to swim.

The smell of an indoor pool, the humidity and taste of chlorine in the air is a familiar friend. My goggles used to tie my hair back between races. My cap folded and tucked in my swim suit. My athletic sorts, or a stolen pair of flannel boxers rolled once or twice. The sound of the starter, the swimmers, the whistles from the coaches in the background.

Before an event the cap goes on first. My hair ritualistically twisted around itself and tucked underneath. Once, I cut my hair so short I couldn’t twist it into a bun before tucking it in. It was the worst 6 months while it grew back out. I kick off my Adidas sandals. Put my shorts and towel on the chair behind my lane. When the goggles go on that’s when the world disappears. I can’t see anything, hear anything; my world is reduced to the lane I’m about to jump into and the event I’m about to swim. Water. Stroke. Breath.

The Olympics makes me nostalgic.

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