Different, only in similar ways

My boys are fish.

I have a fourteen year old and an eleven year old who are as at home in a swimming pool as they are in front of a video game console – and equally as adept at utilizing them. It doesn’t matter if it is a municipal pool, a YMCA a hotel somewhere; Will and Sam will have at it, and especially when traveling and staying at a hotel, they will frequently close up the joint.

They will never be competitive swimmers – that aspect of it just isn’t part of their makeup – but they will spend hours in the water as casual swimmers, retrieving diving sticks, playing with squish balls, just enjoying the time.

They remind me a lot of me at that age, with one crucial difference: I find swimming pools…odd.

Growing up, I spent the bulk of my summer months on Horseshoe Lake, north of Brainerd, Minnesota. This is the heart of Minnesota’s famed lake country, and my summer-only lake friends and I spent hour after summer hour using Horseshoe Lake to its fullest. If we weren’t swimming in it, we were fishing it. If we weren’t actually immersed in or in a boat on the lake itself, we were wading its reedy shores catching frogs and crawfish to play with. And if I wasn’t with my friends, it was not unusual to find me just hanging out on the dock or shore reading, writing or thinking. Sometimes I just walked the shoreline.

Love of the water is apparently part of the Lucker male’s DNA

Thus it was no great surprise when we were on the road in St.Louis last week that the majority of our at-the-hotel time was spent cavorting in the pool. The first night, I simply sat poolside reading, watching the boys, and just unwinding from a day of driving. The next night I joined the boys in the pool, relaxing after a hectic day of playing tourist.

And it just felt…odd.

Not that I couldn’t see the fun the boys were having and that I wasn’t seeing myself enjoying my time in the water thirty-five years ago – that was easy, and immensely enjoyable. But for the first time in a long time, the whole ‘pool thing’ just struck me as strange, especially when I was in the water. The textured, stucco-like pool bottom felt like scratchy, wet sandpaper on my feet – and there was certainly nothing like comforting Horseshoe sand oozing up through my toes. The scent of chlorine hanging in the air was in no way reminiscent of summer sweetness of pine-tinged breezes wafting over northern Minnesota lake water.

I’ve had these feelings a few times before, but nothing as overpowering to my senses as this night in a Super 8 hotel pool, somewhere on the outskirts of St. Louis. I’m glad that my boys love the water as much as I did at their ages, and watching them frolic in the water certainly stirs nostalgia within, but in all the similarities in our respective fishiness, there are some fundamental differences. While Will and Sam have both swum in a few lakes, ponds and streams – and have enjoyed it – they have never spent the extended time that I got to partaking in the natural, outdoor enjoyment of life in the water

I guess it doesn’t matter all that much – they enjoy the water and can handle themselves well in it. As they say here in New Orleans, “It’s all good.”

There was one other item of note from our St.Louis pool time. The day we arrived, newly minted high school freshman Will encountered a charming, attractive girl poolside. The young woman looked to me to be a few years younger than Will, but turned out to be a high school sophomore from Florida. They struck up a conversation, and what I thought would be a fairly short, just-unwind-from-the-trip swim turned into a swim-til-the-pool-closes escapade.

Casually looking up time to time from my reading, I watched with great interest and more than a twinge of nostalgia. I remember a certain summer (1975, if memory serves) when I noticed some big changes from the previous summer in a lot of my friends – mostly the girls; Karen, Kathy, Christy, Jeanine and Patty. That one summer, their swimsuits all seemed different; the designs were less kid-like, they all seemed to have more form than our other summers together. There was also the simple fact that I noticed – and still remember – those changes….

Ahh. That may be another post, for another time.


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