Moira gazed at the pool. Shades of azure mingling and sparkling in the sunlight. Protected in the shade, the gentle heat prickled her rough, tree bark-like skin. She had been severely sun burned just two weeks ago, in a vain and naive attempt to add some color to her normally pale thighs and decolletage. Which was stupid. Almost close to thirty, and she would never learn that her Irish skin would only burn. At best, a few tawny colored, non cancerous (she hoped) freckles would appear on her shoulders and forearms after twenty minutes in the sun.
Moira sighed. The water would feel good, help to soothe her dry, crackled, lobster-red skin but she didn't feel like putting a layer of sunscreen on. Over the layer of intensive relief moisturizer. Over the two consecutive layers of medicated aloe. Her skin already a grubby, sticky mess.
And yet she felt different this summer.
It wasn't too hard, hiding her blossoming relationship from her parents. After her roommates paired up and got engaged in short order (like it was a race), Moira was forced to pack up and move back in with her parents. They shook their heads, albeit good naturally, at her lack of planning. Secretly, Moira was hoping Rob would take April's vacant room and move in. He and Christina seemed to enjoy hanging out with her. Including her in their movie nights and coffee dates. Sure, she was aware she was a third wheel but Rob seemed to accept her as his as new friend rather than just Christina's roommate.
But women have a way of forsaking everything and everyone, in order to fully devote themselves to their men. And in return, expecting that man to fulfill their every need. Protector, provider, confidant, counselor, coach, best friend, lover, personal cheerleader. A man to listen to their hard days, rub their feet, yet still uncontrollably lust for them like they were still as sexy and mysterious as when they first met. Yeah, right.
She was eating pickle flavored, kettle cooked potato chips when Christina told her the news. How she and Rob found an adorable place on the East Side, just for the two of them. They would move in by the end of the week. Wedding invite, it was implied, would soon be arriving in the mail any day now. The chips were Moira's only act of defiance about the whole situation. Christina's chips, purchased at some specialty store down town, unopened in its hip craft paper packaging. Moira must have intuited the arrival of bad news. She would be homeless in less than a week. " Dang Chris.... Eff You! Imma eat yo pickle chips too."
Still, without Christina's decision to move out, she would have never met Raj. Did it still count as a summer romance if all they did was drink coffee and laugh at each other's jokes? Moira decided it did. He was only here temporarily, moving back to New York early August, but still he approached her in the library close to her parent's house. Moira was a failure on most dating sites. Her name was better suited to a fair skinned, slender woman with dark hair and a penchant for hard-cover books. Moira was only at the library during her lunch breaks to read magazines for free. Moira was the name of doctors and scientists, even in the comic books. Moira, with her honey colored hair and eyes, easily fifty pounds overweight, would watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episodes on her laptop at night in bed.
However, she could hold an engaging conversation, had passionate opinions about working hard and fighting for what was right. Values passed down from her Irish immigrants grandparents. She and Raj jokingly discussed the various strategies of surviving the eventual global zombie apocalypse and shared a mutual love of Kurosawa films. They only went out to dinner once, due to Raj's heavy summer course work load but it was short, sweet and memorable. Even if it was mostly because the waiter had spilled an entire glass of craft beer down her left shoulder. Raj insisted on helping. Taking the white dishrag from the waiter. Helping to peel off her light sweater, gently toweling off her bare shoulder. His deep, dark eyes close to her jawline, close to her lips.
He did kiss her, on their last coffee date. They would text and keep in touch but he warned her that grad school would keep him super busy. She told him not to worry. "If it happens, it happens," she said. The kiss wasn't anything earth shattering.
She refocused her attention on her little niece Nicki (short for Nicholson) splashing around in her parents' pool. Her frantic dog paddling, despite wearing neon pink floaties and purple flowered swim goggles clamped firmly on her face. She called out to Moira, with her little sun browned outstretched arms. Moira smiled and slipped on her dad old Jackson Hole, Wyoming t-shirt, maroon with a miniature skier flying over a snow capped mountain. She waded in slowly, mindful of her ruined skin. Then feeling weightless, spun Nicki in fanciful circles, both gently floating toward each other in the crystal blue.
She was right, the water felt just fine.
Text and images by Marg B.