Family Time

 

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I was ready for a tranquil, late Sunday evening at the pool. I walked in to see pool noodles floating in the water next to discarded kick boards and over full swim diapers. It seemed family time had taken on a life of its own. One toddler teetered at the edge of the pool several times before anyone noticed that he had wandered away. Sisters tore at each other, one wishing to stay and one desperately wishing to leave. While they fought it out, their mother quietly slipped into the hot tub. There were two boy-man lifeguards at the desk doing homework and trying not to notice the shenanigans. I saw that 2 five-year-olds had climbed a step-stool and were gleefully pulling the chains to run both rinse-off showers at full force. I smiled and stepped into one, realizing too late that the water temperature was actually scalding. Both girls scampered along to play and left the water on.  I turned them both off and hurried to occupy the only swimming lane in the pool. I managed a distracted 45-minute swim. At one point, while I was doing laps, a very young swimmer made off with my personal kick-board.  I am sure she was attracted to the tie-dye pattern. I just-about managed to get her to trade for the dull blue one supplied by the pool company. The hot tub emptied enough to allow me a nice ending. When I stepped into the single bathroom to change, I had to stand on an upside down drain mat and the deep pattern pressed into the souls of my feet. This felt akin to standing full-force on a floor full of hard plastic Lego pieces. I tried to explain this to the boy-man lifeguard but he shrugged and hurried along to close up. I left all of that behind the glass door and the cool evening air was cleansing.

 

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Intimacies in the Hot Tub

poolJohn has an old world charm. He and his “wife” are regulars at the pool but I hadn’t seen them all summer. Recently, they joined me in the hot tub. John’s wife began a conversation with an elderly woman she remembered from years ago. I felt very comfortable striking up a conversation with John, since his wife was right there. John said they had been busy swimming in the ocean all summer. When asked what beach they use, he answered that they go to a different one every day.
John talked about the place he was born, in the Pyrenees. I talked about my grandparents’ village in the Alps. John talked about his significant weight loss over recent months. I talked about my need to lose weight. John talked about how his lifelong career as a chef had prepared him to “know better.” I talked about how my degree in nutrition had prepared me to “know better.” John talked about losing his wife of 35 years, the love of his life. I listened. It turns out that the woman accompanying John to the pool each time is his very close friend, not his wife nor his girlfriend.
I suddenly felt awkward in the hot tub. How does one break off and exit after the sharing of such personal life stories. “So long” felt wrong, as did “goodbye.” Instead, I chose to say, “I’m sure I’ll see you again John.”