Summer 2020, or should I say, more like Summer In Name Only 2020. All but three of the pools in town have remained closed due to the pandemic. The closest out of the three that opened for the season was one I hadn’t been to in a very long time. They had a set schedule that carved out specific times for classes and open swim for us members of the general public, allowing time for cleanup in line with CDC guidelines throughout the day, and for social distancing. There was one block for open swim earlier in the day, and one toward the end. The last hour and a half of the pool’s operating hours was open swim, so I knew where I’d be going. The concession stand would be closed, but that was fine with me. I already had stuff meal-prepped at home.
I geared up, got on my bike, and rode to the pool. I passed by a neighborhood park, and saw a small group of kids playing a game of basketball. Two other kids were at the playground equipment, and a family was at the sprayground.
Hi, sprayground. Bye, sprayground. I’ll be back tomorrow, universe willing.
I rode past the route I’d once ridden to get to my alma mater, dodging the construction currently underway. The neighborhood had changed in leaps and bounds in the years it’s been since I attended classes there. The little market I loved had since become a discount chain store, and the market itself had relocated to a new building a few blocks up the street. The best part was, they had bike racks! That was one of the things that kept me from the old location, nowhere for me to lock my bike to.
I pedaled down the hill and over to the bridge, with the pool drawing closer. Just beyond the pool stood an old metal factory with its signage clearly visible. I wondered if anyone from there came here after work, and I pretended to myself that they did. I know for sure I’d be here as often as possible during the season if I worked there, and as soon as my shift ended, too.
I wish I could’ve taken you readers with me. I wished I could’ve taken some old friends, and I wished I could’ve taken the people I worked with on projects at my day job with me.
The lifeguard announced that closing time would be coming soon, so I took that as my cue to start getting ready to leave. The sun was setting, and the flood lights inside the bathroom/shower area/changing area cast their yellow glow into the evening. The no-see-ums swarmed the lights like moths to a flame, and I was the last one out of there.
I put my headphones on, turned on my radio to the “Radio” function since it had long ceased being useful as a tape player. (The belt had worn out, and I’ll figure out how to fix that myself.) I unlocked my bike and rode across the parking lot to “Bandy the Rodeo Clown,” singing along.
I was the only one outside, so does it really count as noise pollution? I stopped on the bridge to watch a boater cruising down the river from the marina dock. I have a pic of it, but even though the people in it aren’t visible, I’m erring on the side of caution regardless.
I thought back to 1993, the year of our lost summer due to floods, and how little I remembered of it firsthand. All I remember from that year was that it rained a lot, we had to use rainwater after we went to the bathroom, and we were without power for awhile. I even remember getting water safe for drinking in plain silver Anheuser-Busch cans, haha.
But I digress. This was a lost summer on a much larger scale, and for entirely different (and tragic) reasons. I made my way toward the hill, and some neat old houses along the way. I took in the warm summer breeze, and reflected on how a trip like this was more difficult for me around this time several years back. The pool I frequented at the time was a similar distance from my house, but the terrain was more hilly.
I made that trip anyway, cuz dammit, I love swimming. I was never great at it, even before the accident, but whatevs.
I passed by a fast-food joint that my family and I frequented, and across the way was a convenience store. I seldom went there on my own. Going to those places on my own would’ve required walking or the bike. Even though I didn’t live far from there at the time, I was a lot more sedentary, and also didn’t have the agency I have now.
Every day I’m thankful for that. I made my way home down the incline and up another hill around the corner, and as the evening gave way to darkness, I counted my blessings.
One of those blessings was having the means to take some pics, one of which I leave you with. It won’t be the same, but it’s (hopefully) close.