It’s that brutally hot time of the year: the time that you wished for back in late January, but now realize you may have over-romanticized what hot weather actually was like. I certainly forgot. How could I forget what sweat is like, what burning sun is like while doing a bacon dance on my skin, what burning soles scratching on concrete feel like? Apparently, my memory is short-lived. But now that sizzling summer is here I have to make the best of it, and that means going to the pool.
I live in an area where I have free access to great pools. There is something so universal about water, whether it’s from an ocean, a lake or a pool. Everyone loves the smell of pool water, lake water or ocean water. It’s one of those things that can transport you back to your childhood in an instant.
M pool is a place where people of all ages gladly drip in oil, water and sweat for the privilege of slipping into the cool aquamarine liquid of summer. Whether or not you can swim has no reality: you can waddle up to your neck and move your arms in pseudo-athletic strokes and imagine being an amazing Olympian contestant in the free style event. Unfortunately, those around you are not getting the same image. They’re seeing someone who actually can’t swim, is near a panic situation and is trying desperately to remember which end the ladder is at.
Probably the happiest thing that is happening in the pool are the 7- to 9-year-olds who know they shouldn’t be running around, but are hoping the lifeguards aren’t looking in their direction. They can giggle, they can taunt, they can fall sideways into the pool, and they can also stand still if their mother calls them. They live in adventure and fear at the same time. They have an innocence still that will be dampened in a couple of years, but for now they truly are kids. They amaze me.
One day I watched a few of them, related and not related to each other, running in front of people standing by the pool. They were oblivious to whose space they were trespassing on. They were totally nonplussed by a handicapped gentleman who was there also. To them he was just an obstacle in their game of “you can’t catch me” and they were going pass him multiple times no matter what. This is what innocence is like—you have something to do and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be doing just that. That’s what summer childhood should be like: adventuresome, fun, fast, giggles, and the knowledge that a responsible person (unless it’s an older sibling) is there waiting to pick you up if you fall. Yes, that’s my pool, and yours.