Before I owned a pool, I knew three things about them. You jump in, you jump out, then you towel off. That’s it
And I loved them. Always loved carving my way through the bubbles in the deep end, diving to touch the bottom, seeing how long I could stay underwater as I held onto the silver metal steps to get out.
Growing up, I was also all over the basketball games in the shallow end of the club pool. By summer’s end, me and a bunch of other privileged kids tore that rim up, bending it in a hundred directions after thunder-smashing a dunk down on some scab clinging to your swim shorts. Or jabbing perfectly into a jackknife position when you were about to lay a seat buster down, hoping to soak the old crows counting their diamonds from a nearby lounge chair. Or trying to look mean with nothing to show in a blue Speedo, gearing up for a swim meet with another club in the area, going toe-for-toe in the dreadful butterfly stroke.
Night swimming. Pool hopping. Ice cold morning meets. Loved it all.
But those days are gone now. We stepped it up last year and bought a place with a pool. And now I loathe that pool.
To be clear, it’s not the pool, which is inground, impeccably kept by the former owners, positioned to perfection in the backyard, the works. It’s me and my brain and what’s left of it.
Late last summer, when we moved into our new home in Pembroke, we used the pool to the max. It was hot then, real hot, thigh-sticky hot. And taking a dip to cool down before bed was glorious. Never needed to do much to the pool. Few tabs here, skim every couple days, empty the baskets of translucent mice and leaves. This lasted a few weeks, then it was time to close it down and cover up inside for the next six months.
Until a month ago, when it was time to open her back up and get to some serious breast stroking. I couldn’t wait to jump in for the first time, that liberating and terrifying first jump of the season, cowering in glory, floating in silence, alone with my rabid thoughts.
But it hasn’t worked out that way. No, sir, it has not.
The pool company came by and rolled the cover off, unplugged a few things, loaded in five gallons of chlorine and still, weeks later, the pool looks like Louisiana swamp land. I’ve been in exactly once, and I’m pretty sure I lost a layer of skin doing so, what with the abundance of chemicals I unwittingly had already dumped in. Not that shedding skin is a bad thing. Over the winter I am pretty sure I grew udders, having lived off rice pudding and fat stacks of beef around the Epsom Circle.
I just can’t get a handle on the chemistry needed to keep the pool clear blue. I know, I know. Just do this, add that, let that pump run for the next seven weeks till we’re broke and eating chlorine tabs for dinner. Alkacide, shock, clarifiers and enzymes. The last word I have not used in at least 40 years. I don’t even know if “enzymes” are part of the Periodic Table of Elements, but I do know that I’m about to go plum mad.
Every morning I open the doors in the barn that leads out to the pool and kiss my Saint Christopher medallion around my neck and pray for clear water. And every morning I curse back at Chris, holding him in contempt for the oath he broke, leaving me, yet again, with a cloudy blue pool. Don’t make me move over to Saint Anthony, Christoper. He’s been after me for years.
So, I YouTubed a bunch of videos and called neighbors, friends, and strangers. Some are pool owners, many are not. But I’ll take any advice, any magic trick to make my pool turn blue. I even walked into a car dealership on Manchester Street the other day and pulled a customer aside and said, “Let’s talk about pools instead. Whaddya know, whaddya got?”
Finally, with the help of my daughter, we disassembled the filter, drained it, washed out the cartridges, cleaned all the grit and sand out of the base, reassembled the bitch and loaded in some more chemicals and waited and waited and waited. Still, my pool looks like the eyes of a dog with glaucoma. Now what?
Now, I call in the pros, the poolheads with master’s degrees in pool maintenance. I booked an hour-long session with a pool company (second time) and hopefully, with resolve and a touch of patience, I will figure this all out before the leaves start falling again. I’m desperate, so desperate that I would be willing to make a deal with the Pool Gods that if they deliver me an uncloudy pool to swim in, I will walk from Pembroke to Concord down Route 3 in the same blue Speedo I wore as a kid at the club. It would be a horrific sight, but sometimes humiliation is the only way to get to where you must go.
Anything for some clarity.