Flashback Friday: Swimming Pool

No, I’m not blogging about that Charlotte Rampling movie of the same name. Wouldn’t make much sense since I’ve never seen it before, now would it?

Truth is, I had two completely different ideas for today’s Flashback Friday entry, including one that would have involved me drinking copious amounts of Limoncello while I wrote, as a means to satisfy an ImagiFriend’sTM request to blog my thoughts on a particular subject while drunk.

I still plan on taking on this challenge, but not today. Today, my thoughts were preoccupied with daydreams of swimming. It reached a high of 104 degrees Fahrenheit here today. Add to that the almost tangible thickness of humidity and the heat index soared to something in the upper Kelvin range. As much as I love a sassy summer swelter, this was a bit much. And, sadly, it wasn’t the first such day we’ve had in the D.C. area. D.C. summers are notoriously hot, hazy, and humid, but seems like this year has been particularly unbearable…like being trapped inside the Devil’s jockstrap.


As I was coming back to my office from refilling my water bottle for the third time, I happened to glance out my window at the apartment complex across the street. The community pool was busier than I have ever seen it before, with people splashing about, diving, floating, doing laps…and I was painfully jealous.

Not an unfamiliar feeling, I can assure you. See, the family who lived next door to us when I was little had a pool installed in their backyard. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen; because of a particular addition they had made to the design, the outline looked like a guitar. It even had a little Jacuzzi tucked off to one side, and both the pool and the Jacuzzi were fitted with lights that had different-colored filters. Often, they would set it so the Jacuzzi glowed red and the pool glowed blue. It looked awesome at night and also attracted bats, which I kinda thought was way neater than the color aspect (yes, I have always been a little bit on the creepy side). And the best part? There was a metal sign that hung on the gate that read, “Welcome to our ool. Notice there is no ‘P’ in it. Please keep it that way.”

I used to love it when they would invite me over to swim. Okay, maybe not swim. More like flail around like a slightly challenged albino walrus with a damaged flipper. I was chubby, pale, and didn’t know how to swim at all. Thankfully, the youngest daughter (the same one who would let me take her Big Wheel for a spin or two down our street and who also, incidentally, taught me how to roller skate…yeah, she was pretty cool) had pity on me and taught me how to swim. It took a little while, but I finally managed to eke out the skills necessary to doggy paddle my way from one end of the shallow end to the other. I did get better with time, even finally gaining enough courage to start using the diving board, but it was a long road, denizens…a long and water-logged road, indeed.

Actually, I’m amazed that our neighbors had any form of patience with me at all when it came to that pool. I was like a little Pavlovian monster. I could recognize the distinct sound of the pool gate’s double latch no matter where I was in the house or yard, and when I heard it, I made damn certain that I moved to a point where they could see me. Because, you know, if they could see me, they were bound to invite me over, right? Because who doesn’t want to have the neighbor kid over every single time they want to swim!

Usually, I would position myself on the bench swing that my dad had hung from one of the trees in our backyard. It was right across from where the pool was located, which to me meant that it was the perfect place for them to see me sitting, with my well-practiced hang-dog face, watching them getting ready for what should have been an enjoyable bit of pool time for them.

After a while, they made a wise investment into privacy shades, which totally ruined my mood for weeks. Honestly, though, I’m amazed they didn’t offer to pay for me to be shipped off to summer camp. In Siberia. I would have.

As I grew older, I grew less obnoxious (at least I hope I did) about trying to finagle an invitation to swim. Then came the day when the neighbors who had lived next door my entire childhood decided that it was time to pack up and move on. The new neighbors tried to maintain that beautiful pool for a little while, but it soon grew to be more than they could handle. By the time I moved away from home, they’d allowed the pool to deteriorate into a stagnant green mosquito motel. It was a sad end to such a lovely pool, but to this day, I count the time I spent splashing around in that giant guitar as some of the best memories I have of my childhood summer vacations.