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The Pool

Samuel Lamont

Every summer for as long as I can remember, my family has gone swimming at the UNH pool. It is where I discovered my love of water. The pool is almost as big as a small lake, but with a concrete bottom, and divided into large sections by buoyed nylon ropes. These sections are supposed to be restricted to people under 18 who haven’t passed the pool’s three swimming tests that year, hence keeping poor swimmers out of the deeper areas. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), this rule is almost impossible to enforce, due to the sheer number of people who come to the pool every day. My father pointed this out to me when I was 17, leading me to start swimming under the ropes into areas that had previously been “forbidden”. At first, it didn’t feel right, but then I started rationalizing that the rule was pointless anyway, and swimming under the ropes seemed like a perfectly normal thing to do. I will be eternally grateful to Dad for granting me this knowledge.

Of course, it was knowledge gained a bit too late, as later that year, I turned 18, giving me free run of the pool. Finally, I could go anywhere I wanted without even the minor threat of guards realizing that I hadn’t passed the tests that year, never mind the fact that I had passed them for two or three years in a row before that. Unfortunately, I was also starting to lose my love of swimming, due to the cold water and the fact that I never saw anyone I knew at the pool. Although it would be hard to talk to them while swimming, it would at least be nice to have someone to talk to during guard break who wasn’t related to me.

Maybe in retrospect, I should have invited someone to come to the pool with me. But, that thought never came to mind. However, one day I was relaxing at home when I got a phone call from my friend A.
“Samuel? It’s me, A. I got your message.”
“Oh. So, you want to hang out sometime?”
“Yeah. I’m going to the pool today at about 1:00, and I was wondering if you’d like to go down and meet me there.”
“Hmmm…well, I’ll think about it. I‘ll try to come if I can.”

At about 1:30, I decided to head to the pool. There was nothing to do at home and it would be nice to hang out with Alicia. After all, she was a very nice person, and one of the few people I really knew at UNH. We often would meet downtown to get coffee or to just walk around. Meeting her at the pool would be an interesting change. When I got to the pool, I took a quick swim in the shallow area to get acclimated to the frigid water, then walked around the circumference, searching for Alicia. After seeing no sign of her, I got back in the water and swam around some more. Just then, I saw a familiar figure sitting on a deck chair near the deep area, reading. It was A. I swam back to shore, then approached her and sat down on a wall nearby.
“Hi,” I said.
“You came!”
“Well, there wasn’t anything better to do at home. How are you?”
“Fine. How are you?”
“I’m good,” I said. “Want to go in the water?”
“No, thanks.”
“All right,” I said, running down the slope and into the deep water. After a brief swim, I rejoined Alicia on the shore. It was at about this time that I noticed a young girl swimming in the water nearby. Based on previous conversations with A, I guessed that it was her sister, J.

“Is that your sister?” I asked.

I noticed that J wore a very nice pair of goggles. I really wanted a pair like them, since my eyes have always been very sensitive to chlorine, and the goggles available at Brook’s are not durable.

“Hey, J!” I called out
“Where did you get those goggles?”
“Wal-Mart!” she responded.

Since I didn’t, and still don’t, have a driver’s license, I assumed I probably wouldn’t be able to get a pair. After thanking J, I mentioned this to A. Then I turned my attention to the book she was reading.

“So, what are you reading?” I asked.
“Bridget Jones’ Diary, by Helen Fielding. Have you ever read it?”
“No, I haven’t. But I’ve heard the title before. Have you ever read Doomed Queen Anne?”
“No. What’s it about?”
“The life of Anne Boleyn. You know, she was really quite a fascinating woman. She schemed her way to the top, then lost it all, including her head, because she wasn’t able to have a son.”
“I know.”

We talked for a few more minutes, then A had to take J home. She offered to give me a ride, which I accepted, since I was not looking forward to walking all the way back home. The trip was pretty uneventful, except for the fact that J kept trying to swipe A’s special granola bars. I forgot what was so special about them, but A seemed to be very protective of her granola. After getting home, we parted with typical farewells, as well as agreeing to meet again sometime. This was an especially significant trip to the pool, as it was the last one I took that summer that truly had meaning to me. Although I came back a few times, it just wasn’t as fun as it had been when I was younger. In fact, the pool hadn’t seemed as fun ever since I discovered true friendship, and hence loneliness.


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