Before owning a swimming pool, I knew three things about them. You jump in, you jump, then you wipe off. That’s it.
And I liked them.
I’ve always loved shoving my way through the bubbles in the bottom, diving to hit bottom, seeing how long I could stay underwater as I clung to 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. Late in the summer, me and a bunch of other privileged kids tore up that ledge, bending it in a hundred directions after smashing a dunk on a scab clinging to your swim shorts.
Or sting perfectly in a jackknife stance when you were about to land a devastating seat breaker.
Or trying to look mean with nothing to show in a blue Speedo, getting ready for a swim meet with another club in the area, going toe-to-toe in the terrible butterfly stroke.
Swimming at night. Pool jump. The frosty morning gathers. I liked everything.
But those days are over now. We stepped it up last year and bought a place with a pool. And now I hate this pool.
To be clear, it’s not the pool, which is in-ground, impeccably maintained by the previous owners, positioned perfectly in the back yard, 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 its fullest. It was hot then, really hot, hot sticky to the thighs. And taking a bath to cool off before bed was glorious. Never needed to do much at the pool. A few tabs here, skim every other day, empty the baskets of mice and translucent leaves. It lasted a few weeks, then it was time to close it and cover the inside for the next six months.
Until a month ago when it was time to open her back and get some serious breast fondling. I couldn’t wait to jump for the first time, that liberating and terrifying first jump of the season, curled up in glory, floating in silence, alone with my rabid thoughts.
But it didn’t work that way. No, sir, it is not. The pool company came and removed the cover, unplugged a few things, loaded 5 gallons of chlorine and still, weeks later, the pool looks like a Louisiana swamp. I’ve been there exactly once, and I’m pretty sure I lost a layer of skin doing it, along with the abundance of chemicals I had already unknowingly thrown away. Not that skin loss is a bad thing. Over the winter I’m pretty sure I grew up, having lived off rice pudding and fat piles of beef around Epsom Circle.
I just can’t figure out 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 until we’re broke and eat chlorine tablets for dinner. Alkacid, shock, clarifiers and enzymes. Last word I haven’t used in at least 40 years. I don’t even know if “enzymes” are part of the periodic table of elements or not, but I know I’m about to go crazy.
Every morning I open the barn doors that lead to the pool and kiss my Saint Christopher medallion around my neck and pray for clear water. And every morning I curse Chris, holding him in contempt for the oath he broke, leaving me, once again, with a cloudy blue pool. Don’t make me move to Saint Anthony, Christopher. He’s been chasing me for years.
So I watched a bunch of videos on YouTube and called neighbors, friends and strangers. Some are pool owners, many are not. But I’ll take any advice, any magic trick to turn my pool 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 swimming pools instead. What do you know, what do you have? »
Finally, with the help of my daughter, we took the filter apart, drained it, washed the canisters, cleaned all the gravel and sand from the base, reassembled it and loaded some more chemicals and waited .
Yet my swimming pool looks like the eyes of a dog with glaucoma. Now what?
Now I call on the pros, poolheads with master’s degrees in pool maintenance. I’ve booked a one hour session with a pool company (second time) and hope that with determination and a little patience I’ll figure it all out before the leaves start falling again. I’m desperate, so desperate that I’d be willing to make a deal with the pool gods that if they deliver me a cloudless pool to swim in, I’ll walk from Pembroke to Concord on route 3 in the same blue speedo that I wore like a kid to the club. It would be a horrible sight, but sometimes humiliation is the only way to get where you need to go.
Anything for clarity.
Rob Azevedo can be contacted at [email protected] He is a writer and music enthusiast who lives in Pembroke and is not on staff at The Monitor.