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Ode to the Summer Swimming Pool
I grew up a beach kid, living near the shores of the Pacific Ocean until I moved to New York in my twenties, but I have always had a love and appreciation for swimming pools in the summertime. When I was a kid, we’d go on family vacations to visit my aunt and uncle in Colorado. It was a two-day drive to get there from Los Angeles, and we would stop somewhere near Flagstaff, Arizona, always staying at the same, good ol’ Best Western motel because it had a swimming pool. I have vivid memories from that motel and the excitement of pulling into the parking lot with my mom and dad after a very long day’s drive, looking out the window and seeing the big, glistening, blue pool just waiting for me to jump in. I couldn’t get out of our Windstar Minivan fast enough.
Years later when I was a preteen, I watched the infamous movie Showgirls starring Kyle MacLachlan and Elizabeth Berkley. The movie was pretty bad and had become famous for that fact, but a sex scene with MacLachlan and Berkley would become a pivotal moment in my early understanding of sexuality. Watching that scene, it was the first time I remember feeling turned on, like what I was watching on screen was awakening some new part of my body I had not discovered before. The scene took place in—you guessed it—a pool.
There was the pool at the giant hotel lodge in June Lake when I was a kid and the pool at my old agent’s house in Beverly Hills that overlooked the 405. The public pool and the private pool. The pool shaped like an S and the one with a dead bird in it that made me cry. There was the pool at Prince’s house with a piano suspended above it. (Yes, that Prince. More on that in a future post.) There was the saltwater pool and the freezing ass, spring-is-ending pool. The blessed heated pool and the nasty, over-chlorinated pool. Indoor pools and outdoor pools. In my twenties, there were raves inside McCarren Park’s infamous empty pool. Today, there is Union Pool, the abandoned swimming-pool-supply-store-turned-venue in Brooklyn where I’ve seen countless bands play over the years. I’ve been to a wedding in an empty pool like this one and attended a pop-up dinner in another, like this one.
Pools are not just for swimming; they are a part of our culture, a symbol of our communities—both the ones we have and the ones we are seeking to find. Families descend on pools in the summertime to cool off and have some much-needed fun, while others go just to be seen, maybe meet someone cute along the way. Some people stay in the pool all day, talking and swimming until their toes and fingers turn into prunes, while others lie out on pool chairs reading books and baking in the sun, never going into the water once but liking its shimmering company. Swimming pools are truly for everyone.
Do you have a good story about a pool you’ve loved from your childhood or now? Tell me in the comments, and happy summer!