It’s no secret that I love swimming outdoors and Sunnyside Pool has my heart. I’ve spent countless hours sitting on its edge, or inside its bright blue, swimming away. I’m endlessly inspired by the strange world of public pools — the inventive bathing costumes, and even more inventive swim stroke, the often hilarious interactions, and the blurred lines between public and private. And so I’ve been sitting on the deck, dripping chlorine water onto my book, writing all summer long.
The first of the Swimming Pool Stories:
Friday July 27: 3:30pm
Alyssa plugs her nose when she jumps in even though plugging your nose is for babies and people who don’t take swimming lessons.
“Just don’t,” I tell her on the edge of the deep end, next to the empty guard chair A rope of the ring buoy waits in a perfect coil.
“Don’t plug your nose,” I say.
She looks at me and puts her foot in the water.
She’s got a bikini with black and white polka dots. I begged Mom for one, but she said bikinis are for grown-ups and I got my cousin’s one-piece that used to be maroon.
“Just jump in,” I say. “Like this.” And I jump, my arms spread wide, thwacking against the surface of the water.
I turn around, wiping the water from my eyes, pushing my bangs off my forehead. “See? It’s not hard,” but she turns and walks toward the shallow end.
“Alyssa.” I tread water, waiting for her to turn back. “Alyssa!”
She walks past the guy with the lion tattoo clawing up his neck.
“Alyssa, honestly!” I sound like Mom when I told her I wouldn’t wear Karen’s suit, but she slips into the shallow end, her polka dots disappearing.