Monday, July 16, 2012

Some Things I Remember: Monte Sano Pool

I remember when Monte Sano pool was a forever-sized stretch of frigid blue and the first jump in rocketed fingers of ice straight into my chest. I would bob to the surface with my eyes blinked wide open, having shivered the languid haze of summer break right off my shoulders. I remember the sun-drenched orange tiles that lined the edges of the pool. I would dip my fingers in the water and draw smiley faces on them and watch the sun burn them away. I'd scoop a handful of water on them and rest my cheek right against their warmth, feel the water lapping beneath me and be utterly convinced that there was nothing wrong in the world, not even one tiny drop of wrong. The hours sped by on the heels of games of Categories, Off-Tile and Marco Polo and breath-holding contests. Small, fierce wars were mightily fought over "claiming" the corners at the deep end of the pool where we played our games, and it was in one of those corners that I patented my signature move, the "mermaid swim," and I will be happy to show you in person sometime. The name bestows upon it an elegance that my coordination sadly can't match.

There was a high dive that was 150 stories tall and could almost reduce me to tears with a single glance. The most I ever did on the high dive was stare down at the water below and pull my bathing suit from my crack—a byproduct of the long climb up—before climbing right back down. The low dive was bouncy and forgiving. Its slightly spiky texture tickled the toes underfoot and it seemed a far friendlier place to originate dives and jumps, the likes of which I was convinced had never been seen by human eyes before: behold "Toothpick" (which entailed jumping in with arms at sides and legs as straight as possible), "Mountain" (arms apexed above the head, legs spread, creating the overall semblance of a mountain peak, and also creating a great opportunity for wedgies) and, most daring and dangerous, "Crazy Octopus (in which arms and legs were flailed about wildly mid-jump—and another irresistible opportunity for swimsuit malfunction).

At The Pool, there was only one thing that could stop us in our tracks and make us scuff our heels and huff with exasperation: the long trembling crescendo of the lifeguard's whistle and the shout of "Brrrrrrreeeeeeeaaaaaaaakkkkkkkk!" I swear sometimes those breaks felt like the longest 10 minutes of our lives, and when the whistle blew again, signaling the end of break, you could witness us kids en masse like seals breaking free, flopping gratefully back into the water with abandon, our whoops echoing all around.

I could go on and on, and maybe I will some other time*, but the short of it is: I love you deeply Monte Sano and Monte Sano Pool. You will always be a gentle glow in my heart, forever golden and cherished.

*See, I have not even yet mentioned the penalty box or the big water pipe in the deep end that gushed water straight from Antarctica and tempted us endlessly to hang from it when the lifeguards weren't looking.

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