Rachel Manuel (2nd place. Creative Nonfiction. Fall 2012 Writing Contest)
More than 60 percent of the human body is made up of water. People, on average, are supposed to drink at least 5-7 glasses of water every day. Being the absent minded woman I am, I lose count easily. I drink 2 glasses of water, then get a latte from Starbucks during my class break, drink a bottle of water throughout the two hours of my anthropology class, then forget how many glasses I drank before the coffee. Oh, forget it. I start to recall the more simple ages of my life when keeping track of how much water you consumed didn’t matter. The ages of my life when water was replaced with juice boxes and glasses of chocolate milk that accompanied buttermilk pancakes that my aunt cooked for me and my cousin on my getaway weekends from the stress of bouncing between my father’s house and my mother’s apartment. I start thinking about a childhood memory of my father, one of the few.
My father packed the ice coolers with premade turkey sandwiches for him and his girlfriend’s family and a Lunchable and Capri-Suns for me. I strolled down the pathway that my father left as he dragged the cooler through the blistering sand toward the shoreline of Galveston beach. I was at the age when playing in the sand and not caring what crevices on my body the grains ended up in was fun. I would sit on the cool, packed sand at the water’s edge and dig little holes with my naïve toes and watch as the salty water flowed around my feet, getting trapped in the toe-moats I had built seconds before. I would stand up and totter to the cooler, grab a Capri-Sun, stab the straw into it and suck the fruity-flavored life from it. I would close the cooler and walk over to my daddy, tug on his swim trunks, and offer him a sip. He would place his educated hand on my head and stir the brunette hair that lay under his palm, signifying that he didn’t want any. I remember feeling guilty and stupid for offering him a child’s beverage. So I tottered back to the cooler and picked up a cold bottle of water to give to him. He took it and kissed my forehead.
I had a distant relationship with my father. It wouldn’t be until later, when I graduated from high school, that I would realize the reason why I never saw him. It was because his way of doing things was the only way. I could see why my mother left him and his stubborn, yet genius mind. Don’t get me wrong. I love my father. I realize sometimes which genetics of his are in my blood.
My mother is a different story. She is a free-spirit, although she does remember how many glasses of water she consumes every day. She is the reason I try to keep count.
“Honey, you’re probably dehydrated. How many glasses of water have you had today?” This was her medical evaluation for every health problem of mine.
The place my mother and I lived in during my childhood years was a small, one-bedroom, one-bath apartment on the third floor. I mostly remember the pool that was in the middle of the apartment complex. The pool holds most of my distinct memories of my mother when I was a child. She would take me down to that pool every night during the warm seasons when there was a full moon. We would dance with each other, pretending we were in the Swan Lake ballet that my mother used to dance in her teenage years. As the lukewarm water held our hands together and flowed with us as we moved, my mother would suddenly throw her arms around my tiny toddler figure and gather me closer to her body, holding me like an infant.
We had our own little dance that we choreographed together. She would stand on her ballerina tippy-toes as the water swirled around her feet, taking the place of toe-shoes, and start pirouetting through the pool, the water bouncing up and down weightlessly off her toes. I would begin chanting the words “bouncy-boo” in a sing-song voice and my mom would echo it back to me.
I smile at the memory as I lie in my bed. Glancing at my bedside table I remember the glass half-full of water and take a sip from it as it helps me recall the memories I formed around water throughout my life, as I slip into another night of sleep.