the water’s the thing

It’s summer, well almost and not officially, but heat wise; it is summer in the city. Poor Virginia, it is plagued with humidity and hot summers. I know our summers are not like Texas summers or Louisiana summers, but they are hot enough for me. I don’t believe in snootiness, but sometimes I wish I were a person who “summers” somewhere else if just to get away from the nastiness. Maine, Maine sounds good, or maybe even Canada.

The only thing really good about the heat is that pools open and there are trips to natural bodies of water. Every year my family takes a beach trip. I actually hate sand and saltwater, but I love the laziness of a beach week. I take about ten books and I just read and play with children and read some more. And then there is, of course, the eating of the shrimp and crab. There is always the eating of the shrimp and crab.

But, before and after the beach, there is the pool. Growing up we belonged to our local Elks Club, an organization I really don’t understand except that there were usually old men there at any given time throughout the day and they could be found at the bar inside the clubhouse. I’ve never found out what the organization stood for or against and as soon as the last child (me) went to college, my father’s membership ran out. We used the place for the pool and the pool only.

The local pool, a place where you learn to swim from the coolest man you have ever seen because he wears sunglasses underwater, where you strengthen friendships over adult swim breaks and during “shark” in the deep end, and where you tackle the fear of the “high dive.” I never joined the swim team, but I was a lifeguard for 2 summers. Lifeguarding is the best job ever invented. Sometimes I think about going back to lifeguarding with my summers off, but then I think that the current 16 year olds would find me a bit strange and I would certainly not fit into their lifeguarding clique. That’s OK. I got my lifeguarding kicks back in the day anyway. I just really miss the twirling, the twirling of the whistle while sitting in the tall chair with a high vantage point, the sun so strong you can see your legs tanning before you eyes.

The pool is now what I go to with my nieces and nephew. None know how to swim yet, but I am determined to solve that one. My favorite thing to do with them is to take each one, individually, in my arms and pull them across the pool from the shallow to the deep end. On the cross-pool treks, our faces close together, we pretend different things, sometimes they practice kicking or just floating. When water rushes into their mouth and nose I know it’s a 50/50 chance of them quitting the trek mid-pool. But, the other day, my precious niece coughed it out and swallowed hard then said, in three year-old voice, “Annie, I want to ride the waves again.” You see, we were pretending to be on the ocean and waves were gently bouncing us up and down (hence the water in the nose from the crashing wave). I love the pool. I love that it turns a three year-old into a chlorine swallowing wave rider.

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