Since our family didn’t take many formal vacations, a primary source of recreations for a lot of summers involved going to the neighborhood pool. I’d bargain with the kids to leave me alone in the mornings to work, then we’d go swimming almost every afternoon.
Quite often we’d head right back to the pool after dinner for a quick dip before bedtime. That was a tremendous boon to our water bill at home, as a quick rinse in the pool shower eliminated the need for a bath, especially when I remembered to bring the shampoo.
At the beginning of each pool season, we were like everyone else, not sure if we wanted to bare our pale white skin to the hot Texas sun. Extra t-shirts and sunscreen were in abundance. Plus, there was that adjustment period where regulars would start marking off territory that was pretty well respected back then. Certain families liked certain spots on the grass surrounding the pool and they staked their claim with blankets, towels, and an assortment of beach and pool toys.
Territory was marked off in the pool, too, and when the twins were little, I had my own little section of the kiddy pool reserved for the year. There I could keep an eye on the twins and cultivate a suntan, or a new acquaintance, or both. I’d look across the pool with envy, longing for the day I’d get to sit on the other side of the pool with the rest of the grownups.
In the evenings, there was a whole different set of people at the pool, mainly lots of teenagers. Carl would always cast an appreciative eye on the new crop of sweet young things who ought to be arrested for looking so good, while I tried my best to hide my varicose veins and the bulges that had fallen from all the right places to all the wrong placeson my body. I knew there was no hope for me to be considered a bathing beauty when I no longer got even a passing glance from some kid who was too young for the sweet young things, but too old for Tinker Toys.
Typically, my kids wasted a lot of time and energy testing to make sure I really was not going to bring money to the pool. Not ever. They also had to make absolutely sure that I was not going to referee their fights, or decide who would get to play with the ball next. “Settle all that yourselves,” I’d tell them. “I’ve come to the pool to relax.”
Indeed, going to the pool could be very relaxing. When the noise topside got to be too much, I could always go under the water and stay there as long as I could hold my breath. Sometimes I swear it was the only time I was completely alone in any given day, and it sure was quiet and restful down there.
That’s when I realized that if I ever have suicidal tendencies, I will definitely have to stay away from the pool.