Filmmaker & Artist


Summertime Sewage Swimmers

Christmas in July is a real thing: It is the iridescent, dog days of summer. The inability to find comfort in slumber as you await the next day, the next adventure, the glimmer in each other's eyes. Summer is the pinnacle of adolescent excitement. Where toilet paper becomes a weapon of mass destruction and where love never seemed so infatuously beautiful. I spent my summers indulging in midnight swirled sundaes, being pelted by life size cherries on a cast iron frying pan, and disappearing into the terrain to find swimming holes. Summer is where I curiously evolved with the bodies and minds of my peers. As I continue to grasp at the straws of summer and remain in its fleeting arms, I want to share some stories this summer of how I spent mine growing up. Here's one when I was about 8 or 9:

I will not get into an argument or stand on any soapboxes about children today and how they seemingly do not play outside like I did; I will just say that ALL I did when I was a kid whether it was summer or not was play outside until the mosquitoes had pricked me too many times. Growing up in California, I was fortunate to have a year-round stage to scab my knobs and freckle my cheeks. 

The first house I ever lived in (and remained in for elementary school), was set in a cul de sac. More than half of the neighborhood was housed with kids and the home directly across from mine was just as much my own; There lived my childhood cohorts, Stephanie and her brothers. They were like my family and could not have been better friends to run across to when my Mom wouldn't let me watch Zoog Disney. Our street was dominated by kick ball, skating, and chalk. If I remember correctly, this was before Stephanie's family had a pool, otherwise this story will always remain such an anomaly to me. 

By the time we had ran through all of our neighbor's timed sprinklers, we always still yearned to cool off from the August swelter. I remember one day, laying on my driveway with Stephanie, in our 90s, neon one-piece bathing suits after nicking our legs in the grass and catching the occasional rainbow in the sprinkler's crossings. As we basked, a rumbling came brushing down our street. What I did not know was that this was a Street Cleaner. All I saw was a raucous, large truck bumbling down our sacred tar haven. Now that I think of it, I must have never seen this because they usually come at the crack of dawn or a time when nobody is up and moving. The sweeper had to have been late and rushing to make its rounds. 

We scooted ourselves far up onto the driveway as to stay far away from what could have possibly been a Transformer until it turned around and disappeared onto the identical set of houses next to ours. As soon as we stopped checking to see if the machine truly left, we noticed something we could not have ever prayed or dreamed of. The gutters were overflowing with water and forming large pools in the divots of the street. There was not a moment of questioning or understanding that this was sewage overflow and chemical rubbish mixed with reclaimed water. We simply raced into my overstuffed chasm of a garage, snagged body boards, polyurethane floaties and dove into the brine of the asphalt ocean. 

We slipped and slid along the slick eaves of the concrete gutter for what could have been hours or all but a few moments, until both of our mother's synchronously snatched us up from the Hepatitis A we were fostering. 

I think I was not allowed to see Stephanie for a week or so after our aquatic inundation. Our mothers probably needed a break from the mischief that I was already so diligently planning. I will never forget the pangs of laughter or the rank redolence of the swim's aftermath. Moments like that are the infinite feeling you get when you are alive and uninhibited. I may never do that again or never be that full-blooded, bronzed, or blithe, but I know I can never escape the summer scintillation. 


Kelli ReillyComment