The new season at the pool is literally one of my favourite moments. It’s right up there with Christmas and birthdays, because it’s officially the start of summer in my mind. And the pool is where I spent all my summers as a kid. Or, more accurately, it’s where I have spent all my summers.
Even after I’d left home, and moved out to the big city of Toronto, whenever I’d come home, I’d go to the pool. There is something magical about the place. It’s not a backyard pool, it’s a community pool, and it actually does foster a real sense of community. There’s the annual talent show, the adult party, the swim meets. These are all ingrained in me, in the same way some people think of summer camp, that’s how I think of the pool at The Mom’s. It’s hard to describe without making it sound like we live in a gated community, but perhaps if you imagined a gated community as run by socialists and hippies, you’d get nearer to the reality.
As kids, The Mom would take us down for our lessons in the morning, with snacks in her bag, and we’d mooch around with the other neighbourhood kids, The Mom would talk with the other moms or the grandparents or whomever, and we’d learn to swim. Crazy D hated it, and L’il Sis was never a big fan, but I took to it like a fish to water, obviously. The Mom would leave us there after our lessons, we knew the way home, and it was only a five-minute walk, so we were allowed to stay (after demonstrating we were competent swimmers) until we got tired of it. I remember the lifeguards kicking me out at dinner – telling me to go home and eat something. I suspect they thought I wouldn’t come back. Ha! I believe I ran home – clad in my Speedo and some flip-flops – shoved food into my face and hurried back so that I could have another few hours in the pool. My childhood, as I remember it, was spent in a Speedo.
I have such fond memories of the lifeguards, how I looked up to them, how cool they were, how kind they were to me – they were like big sisters and brothers (and we always managed to have at least one male guard), cool teenagers who were my summer friends when my school friends all went off to summer camps or cottages.
Eventually, I became a lifeguard, and my summers were spent, still at the pool, but this time teaching little kids how to swim, keeping the peace between the teenagers and the Moms, and being the one that the kids looked up to.
Even now, though I live in the UK, the lifeguards at The Mom’s pool know me. And during my summer visit, The Mom and I adhere to a strict schedule: everything we want to do must revolve around the daily swim.
So for me, the annual summer opening of the pool is a magical time. It still has that feeling of school being done for the year, of potential for adventure, for magical things, for summer things, a return to childhood, and it is in large part what I picture when I picture home.
And so opening day is of course a highlight in the social calendar. When we emerge from winter, shed our extra layers, and become our summer selves. Nothing, not even an all expense paid trip to the quiet bit of Ibiza could keep me from coming home each summer for some quality pool time.