When I was a kid, we used to go to the community pool a lot. The pool was like my source of summer teenageriness, before I was a teenager. I had a crush on a lifeguard who looked a bit like Lorenzo Lamas on “Falcon Crest,” and I swear to God, he was dating this beautiful blond lifeguard who was like the epitome of who I really wished I could turn into as a 10-year-old. She had pretty highlights and tan skin and a sexy-pouty face. I spent hours at this pool, trying to figure out the relationships between all the lifeguards, doing handstands in the water, diving off from the highboard in the deep end, waiting for Madonna songs to come on the radio.
One thing I never quite understood during my childhood pool days was adult swim, when they kick all the kids out of the pool and the adults get to go in without getting their heads bashed in by children or something. I used to sit on the edge of the pool and just wait for adult swim to be over. I was like, “These adults! They’re not doing anything! They’re just wading around, floating on their backs! They’re so boring!” Because, you know, that’s how grown-ups look to you when you’re 10, 11 years old. You just have no idea why adults are such freaking marshmallows, you know? Do something!
And then a few days ago, I was at the pool. It was a scorching hot day, so hot that the heat makes the scent of you waft up in the air, even if you’re not sweating. I was dying to get into the pool, but the place was filled up with under-parented kids and I didn’t want to deal with the semi-combat zone it turned into. There was a terrible cover band butchering Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” and my Coke was warm and not so fun to drink.
And then someone made the announcement over the PA: adult swim for 15 minutes. All the kids grumbled and clambered slowly out of the pool, one particularly passionate toddler throwing himself face down in the shallowest part, refusing to go. But I saw my chance! I became an adult. I went into the pool, and I paddled around for a few minutes, getting used to the temperature, enjoying the cool water. And then I lay on my back and floated for a moment, staring up at the few clouds in the sky, enjoyed how the sounds of the world became echo-filled and hollowed-out underneath the water. I’d been feeling tumultuous all weekend, but for a few beautiful minutes, I felt peaceful, and the peace gave me the space to think my thoughts and feel my feelings without that cramp of anxiety that sometimes accompanies them. I think in that moment I became that equivalent of a grown-up marshmallow that my 10-year-old self would’ve judged so blindly. And I didn’t mind at all. It felt good.