Right before I turned seven, my parents had a pool put in the backyard. Every day of every summer for the next seven years was spent in or around that pool, from the moment we woke up until the minutes right before dinner. Our fingers and toes were constantly shriveled, and my hair was permanently green from the chlorine, but I didn’t care. The pool was heaven.
I don’t know if my parents realized just exactly how much the pool would get used, but they got a great return on their investment. They also got to host every kid in the neighborhood at least once a week, plus countless pool parties and birthday celebrations. I think that pool is squarely the reason why I love hosting parties – I grew up hosting people.
So many of my best summer memories involve that pool. Splashing with friends, having jump contests, endless games of Marco Polo. But my favorite times were after the sun went down. It was a rare and special treat when we’d be allowed to swim at night. There was just something about the way the pool looked all lit up, surrounded by the stillness of the evening. I loved laying on a float while I tried to count how many crickets were making music around me.
I told my mom a few weeks ago that I hoped we’d be able to bring Annabel to their house for a night swim. She loves swimming, but more than that, her imagination is so active that I knew she’d find the magic in swimming under the stars. Yesterday, everything worked out, and we brought Annie over to my parents’ house for dinner and swimming.
Right away, she started making up stories. She was flying, the water was the clouds, the pool light was the sun. She was a shark, or a dolphin, or a million other sea animals. I told her about the games her uncle and I played when we were younger. She wanted to hear about the birthday parties, and the other kids that grew up on the street. I told her we’d have jumping contests into the water, and she wanted to have one, too.
When it was time to get out, she didn’t want to. “Just five more minutes, Mama! Please! I’m not done with this story yet, the princess has to rescue the dolphin!”
I know she’s going to have her own memories and her own favorite stories to tell. I don’t know if night swimming with her parents will be a memory that rises to the top, but that’s okay. It will be for me.