{thanksfully: in the swim}

1998 Vacaville Pool 023

Self-portrait by my niece, when she was nine…

How I longed for a pool when I was a kid. Oh, my goodness, all the cool people in the world had a house with a swimming pool. Even all of the books about cool kids I read had kids with pools in them. We, alas, were Not Cool. And we would never have one. Never mind, that my friend Norma (who always told me she was 5’17” and it took me years to figure out that people don’t figure height that way) let my sisters and I swim at her pool every weekend. Never mind that my Uncle Gene and Aunt Joy let us enter their backyard by the side gate, even when they weren’t home, and let us leave our suits in their pool house. Life was tragic, because I had no pool of my own.

The one girl who had a swimming pool in our eighth grade class ended up class president. Coincidence? I didn’t think so. All the people who had pools had a mob of friends, fun parents, cute bathing suits, and could do a perfect backstroke. They had all the advantages I lacked. I determined that someday, I would make up for it.

The first three places out of college that I rented I was more concerned about being able to afford, but when Tech Boy had his first tech gig out of college, we moved, and rented the most wonderful house.

Technically, it wasn’t wonderful. It was terrifying. It had white carpet. It had glass fronted gas fireplaces. It had a deck. It was built for entertaining. We really couldn’t afford it. But, we had it, because… it had a pool. Friends and family brought their friends and family. We were, for the year we were there, Party Central. It was — well, actually, kind of overwhelming. But! We had a pool.

1998 Vacaville Pool 020

Self-portrait, by my foster-niece, age eight.

Our next house was older and more comfortable, and we were there for five years. I had pool parties for myself and for my siblings for every summer birthday and holiday, and we were in every Spring as soon as we could be. Every Fourth of July found us grilling and waving sparklers and watching the fireworks from the front lawn (we had a house situated between two fairgrounds – it was excellent). Rainy autumn afternoons we sat in the hot tub and let the rain fall on our heads, and stayed warm. One Sunday, during a heat wave, my father took a chair into the shallow end and sat there for most of the day, reading the paper, wearing a straw hat. The picture of that is just …priceless. We all loved my pool — actually, I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason my family came over all the time, because I had a pool. I was, at last, cool. And it was good.

There are indoor pools here, and though they have cool acrobat rings and a trapeze above them (!), I generally only use them for exercise. My sloppy backstroke is … still sloppy. I’ve gotten over the need to make sure my family loves me by having them over every weekend – now that I can admit that I am an introvert, I can admit that, good grief, all those people wore me out. (What was I thinking??) I’m even over my need to be cool. (Mostly.) But, as we prepare to decamp for warmer climes, I have been finding myself dreaming again of the water.

Maybe it’s because it’s symbolic of our unconscious thoughts. Maybe it’s because underwater, I am at last graceful. Maybe it’s just because when I work out, in the water, I’m never overheated. For whatever reason, once I get into the pool, it takes some hard convincing to get me out. I feel like I am at home, in water.

In the water, I can stand on my hands, which I cannot do on dry land. In the water, the world is softer-edged and more forgiving than it is elsewhere. In the water, I discover that playtime doesn’t end when childhood does. I’m a mermaid, a fish, a naiad. In the water, all else is silenced, and I can at last hear the cadence of my heart.

Arlington Baths Club 02

Arlington Baths, Glasgow

So the little flap on my Thanksgiving Advent Calender is open to a window of sunlit blue. For the grace of weightlessness beneath the waves, I am truly thankful.

My young photographers have both turned twenty-one. Scary, huh?

One Reply to “{thanksfully: in the swim}”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.