A few of my years attending UC Berkeley for undergrad was spent in a house on Dwight Way. I remember my roommates and I talking about the new nuisance on the block: Raccoons! While adorable in children’s storybooks, far from adorable when stumbling upon them in real life.
One of my housemates came home reporting another raccoon sighting: “Eww, the guys across the street at Americana said that at night, they caught a FAMILY of raccoons going for a night swim! Can you imagine? So gross!”
As I tried to fall asleep that night, visions of the raccoon family took hold of me. As much as I was anti-raccoon, the vivid image of the family going for a swim captured my heart. Not gross at all.
Were the raccoon parents immigrants? What was their story? When did the parents get together? The dad must have told his buddies, proudly, that he can’t go foraging with them that night because he was going to take his family swimming. The kids were probably excited all day for their moonlit swim.
I pictured the dad looking at a map for the best swim holes Berkeley had to offer, researching how to get there and weighing the pros and cons between Clark Kerr pool and the more humble pool at Americana apartments.
I imagined the mom making some kimbahb and packing some trash for their midnight excursion. The kids were not helpful but their excitement was contagious. When the coast was clear and the loud humans were off to bed, the dad must have let out a high pitched whistle with his black lips and leathery black fingers, waving one bandit hand, “It’s time. Dive on in, guys!”
For some reason, this raccoon family I had not even encountered for myself during my college days, left an imprint in my brain. I especially pictured the leader of the pack, the family-oriented Dad, creating some merriment for his brood.
Yesterday, despite the cold, hail, rain, and slushy Slurpee streets of NYC, Kevin and I were determined to go for a swim together. His gym was offering two hours of Family Fun time where we could all go swimming as part of his membership. This would entail some planning in order to make it in time.
Pack our swim stuff the night before, to take on the E train into Midtown.
Attend church. Leave stuff in car for easier transport to subway.
Buy empanadas for speedy lunch on the run.
Drop off car in our lot. Confirm with gym that their pool is open. Take swim stuff and position onto Ellis’ stroller and have him sit in stroller so our massive belongings don’t tip over.
Walk to subway stop without slipping. Especially Mommy and her Belly.
Wait for Sunday E train and remind boys to stay in the middle of the platform.
Hop on train. Grab seats as they become available. Kevin scarf down a few empanadas he could not eat while driving us home.
Pop out of train and maneuver umbrellas. Walk to gym as more freezing rain pours down.
Laugh at how we really must like adventures and wonder if others would even bother to do this for a free family swim or just say, “Haiiiill nah!”
Sign waivers, change into swimsuits and meet at the pool.
Kevin told me to get my lap swim on while he frolicked with the kids in the loafer lane. The kids were beaming. Their wet seal heads bobbed up and down. Daddy took them on rides on his back.
As I swam towards them, my eyes teared up behind my goggles. They looked…not unlike…the raccoon family of my college imaginings. I hadn’t thought about that raccoon family in years but there they were, every bit as tight as I had imagined. Turns out that the dad had a gym membership!
What a darling, happy story! My dad woulda high- fived you for making this excursion happen!