In the Pool, Something to Hold On To
Here we are at the headwaters of summer, pawing through the drawers looking for last season's swimsuits.
Some of you might have dived headlong into this season's swim fashions during one of those rainy, gray days of January. Retailers know we're blue in the dead of winter - hung over from the holidays and unable to see spring from our houses - so they fill the racks with ... swimwear!
Me, I tread lightly when it comes to poolside togs, and I don't let go easily of a pair of swim trunks if I like them and they conceal all that needs concealing. The concealment requirement seems to be growing; perhaps Lands' End will soon be marketing a "New England Mummy" suit.
Summer is swimming for our kids. In Greensboro, you were never too far from a community pool. Ours was two blocks away. If I came home for lunch in the summer and the family wasn't around, there was a good chance they were around the corner at the pool.
Both our kids learned to swim there. Each had some informal lessons from high school kids, but they built on that with a fair bit of splashing and cajoling from us. They developed strokes that would at least keep them alive in their merriment.
In time, the dog paddle became the backstroke, which became the freestyle. Those first tentative ventures off the diving board, one of us treading water below to "catch," has now turned into tuck-and-roll flips off the side and back flips until their sides ache. Ayden's bountiful belly flops have led to some well-developed - and envied - abs.
Years from now, when they look back on their childhoods, I hope our kids will have built these happy memories of Tuesday swim meets, Friday float nights and splashing at dusk as the fireflies light up the night and the goldfinches take flight.
Swimming seems to be the one constant they can count on in their ever-changing lives. School, friends, routines - the very notion of home - is fluid for them, as it is for so many of us these days.
We don't set out expecting so much change. Kids, especially, think that what is always will be. They don't pause to "remember" because they're so busy making those memories. So it can be pretty hard on the kids when that production line ends.
Perhaps that's why Loreleigh and Ayden and their across-the-street friends Lydia and Nolan were perfectly paired from Day 1. Both sets of siblings had been recently uprooted, replanted in unfamiliar soil. They had so much in common, it was like kismet that these little soul mates found each other.
They had the dependability of each other. They didn't have all the baggage we have in our lives, so they didn't bother with such adult formalities: Where are you from? Do you like it here? Are you a horse person or a golf person? What'd you pay for your house? They could get comfortable with each other much more quickly.
But even bonds cemented with sleepovers and water hose battles aren't permanent. Lydia and Nolan are moving tomorrow, a fact that colored last weekend's sleepover with a note of sadness.
Granted, they'll just be across town, but tell that to crying 9- and 10-year-old girls. They know the bottom line: Those summer sleepovers and lazy pool days, days of superhero battles of life and death in the streets of Pinehurst until the next lemonade break, will require planning ahead instead of walking across the street to "ask your mom."
It all brings to mind the sad father, Sam Krichinsky, in Barry Levinson's 1990 movie "Avalon," when he says, "If I knew things would no longer be, I would have tried to remember better."
So if I can do anything for this quartet, soon to be separated by a short trip down Morganton Road, it will be in memory manufacturing. Our assembly plant will be the Elks Lodge pool this summer. There in that concrete-and-tile basin, they can splash and scream and eat ice cream until their little memory rivers overflow their banks.
Standing at the headwaters of summer, I realize the young are blessed with not knowing they won't always be that way. So it's up to us to make sure they take full advantage of the time they do have, even if that means the old man dive-bombing them with a hearty call of "Cannonball!"
You can contact John Nagy at email@example.com or (910) 693-2507.
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