Let me rephrase that: I miss having a pool in my backyard.
As a kid, I was in our pool every hour of every day. But as an adult, when I had one in my own backyard, I very rarely used it.
We installed our pool when the kids were tall enough to stand in it with their heads above the water. It was a modest, 18-foot round pool that fit nicely in our yard with a small attached deck. As anyone who owns a pool will attest, constant maintenance was required to maintain crystal clear water. One of my proudest moments every summer was finding my water clear as a bell after a long winter.
My wife and I spent countless hours making like Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” trying different combinations of chemicals to keep the water clean and safe. There was vacuuming and skimming to be done, especially in our pool because of all the trees we had in the yard. Some people kept their pool temperature slightly below hot tub levels, but ours was, well, let’s call it refreshing, due to limited direct sunlight.
We were a happy family with our small and refreshing pool until something changed our outdoor habits forever: central air conditioning. Suddenly, venturing outside to cool off in the pool wasn’t necessary. Why would anyone want to leave the comfort of their air-conditioned living room?
Although we still maintained that crystal clear pool for more than 20 years, I’d say in the last 10 years of its existence, we barely dipped our toes in it. Once upon a time, after spending two hours maintaining the lawn, jumping in the pool to cool off was my greatest reward. That ended when we were required by Long Island law to get a landscaper. There were times we stole a few peaceful moments floating and enjoying the peace and quiet, but those were few and far between.
We took the pool down several years ago. I didn’t realize how emotionally attached to the old girl I was until we began dismantling it. It was like saying a final goodbye to an old friend whom you’d lost contact with. Even though you hadn’t spoken recently, there were still fond memories.
But since it’s been gone, I generally miss it.
Curiously, I enjoy a pool when I’m on vacation or visiting friends. Why didn’t I make more use of my own? Maybe it’s one of those “the grass is always greener on the other side” type of things.
Here on Long Island, where we are literally surrounded by beautiful beaches, you won’t usually find me there. Maybe it’s a fear of drowning or, thanks to Steven Spielberg, a fear of sharks. Either way, I just can’t get past the simple fact that I think I am still finding sand on my body from a trip to Jones Beach in 1977.
I’ve been a pool guy all my life, so I did something I haven’t done in 25 years. I went to the public pool at Marjorie Post Park in Massapequa Park with my wife one night after dinner. To be honest, it was a pleasant surprise.
Have you ever done something that turned out to be a pleasant experience and then asked yourself, “Why haven’t I done this more often?” The pool was clean and refreshing, with friendly and engaging lifeguards that seemed way too young. Although the number of after-dinner bathers was unquestionably smaller than the middle-of-the-afternoon crowd, it was mixed with young families and older couples.
And the best part? All we had to do was show up, do some swimming, then hang out and relax. Someone else was responsible for maintaining the chemicals, vacuuming, skimming and cleaning up after everyone.
Maybe I don’t miss my pool that much after all. Hey, is that a snack bar over there?
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.