Monday, March 21, 2011

The Pool vs Me

      I detest my pool. I want it not to exist anymore. It is the bane of my existence, but it wasn’t always that way. It sucks electricity, chemicals and water. It sometimes becomes a death trap for baby quail who inadvertently fall in. It’s a symbol of what I am unhappy with in my life now, it’s old deteriorating outdated existence that I have no use for anymore. It sits there, a reminder of a life I used to have.
     When I first moved into the house I am in now, seventeen years ago, the pool was clean and blue. The tile trim was pretty and no algae fouled the walls. It had been recently re-plastered. It was an oasis on a hot day. It was something that I actually wanted to swim in. The pool fence was in good shape, a must for having a small child around.

     Having a pool with a young child was great. She wasn’t like some children who have a death wish and try to get into the pool by themselves and then drown. She loved the pool. She had friends over who also loved to swim, especially the neighbors who didn’t have one in their back yard.

     My ex-husband also loved the pool. He would sunbath naked when I wasn’t around to give him a hard time about it. He would go skinny dipping at night on hot summer nights. Sometimes he would keep his swim clothes on and my daughter would join him. I wouldn’t go in as often, but it was nice at night when it was still a 100 degrees at night.
     This love affair faded, however. My daughter stopped wanting to go into the pool when she was a teenager. My ex also stopped swimming and sunbathing. I swam elsewhere because the pool wasn’t big enough for serious swimming and it was more fun for me to swim with a group.
     Normally, my ex-husband would take care of the pool. It required regular chemicals, messy filter cleaning and other mysterious rituals. My husband lost interest in doing this after a while. Then he lost interest in me. The old relationship died slowly, little by little every year. I sensed that he was growing distant, but I was in denial that the marriage was dead. He spent most of the summer in California with business as an excuse, but I always assumed that he would come back.
     The pool had gotten older by this time. The tile cracked and algae would grow on the walls. The water tasted bad from the salt and the skimmer got sluggish. The filters needed cleaning and the motor was failing.
My ex-husband left me and I had no idea how to take care of the pool. To add to my stress of having my life fall apart, the water decided to turn green no matter how much chlorine I threw in it. I had to hire someone to drain it and to acid wash the plaster. I think my water bill that month to refill it was about $200. It looked good for a time. I hated having to repair something that I had no use for and I resented having the responsibility dumped on me.
     I was paralyzed with depression and I didn’t want to deal with my life, let alone the pool. It took me a long time to recover enough from being dumped to have the energy to do something about maintaining the pool’s annoying existence.
     To top it off, the metal fence is rotting with bubbling rust. I don’t know how it still stands up. It will wobble if you push it. Since I decided not to maintain a lawn by myself and didn’t water it, and I can’t get the lawn mower to work, the bushes by the pool decided to shed a lot of leaves. They would blow in the pool and I would fish them out and throw them by the fence. Then they would blow in the pool again. I was too lazy to rake them.
     With all these leaves blowing in the pool, the skimmer decided to stop working. It would move against the wall, lazily flicking it’s tail and not go anywhere. I recently had someone clean out the pool filter and it worked for about two weeks. The pool almost looked clean again. Then the motor developed a whining sound and it the skimmer stopped working. Now leaves and dirt are on the bottom again. The pool mocks me, letting me think I am the boss, when I am not.

     The pool is unloved. The only creatures who seem to enjoy the pool now are the boat-tailed grackles who perch on the floating chlorine tablet dispensers and drink water. It’s just a lot of work for me and I am looking forward to the day that it no longer is my responsibility.

     The pool is like my life. Certain things don’t work anymore and I need to get rid of them. Old habits, old possessions, old ways of thinking, old relationships that were great once have lost their usefulness. They are old and crumbling like the rotting pool fence. They made me happy once and now they just cause me pain and anxiety.

     I have to make my own tough life decisions and figure out how to implement them. Avoiding discomfort and anxiety won’t solve my problems. Thinking that I am just not good enough won’t give me strength to face the world, let alone have some semblance of happiness and peace. Falling down the rabbit hole of depression won’t let me move forward.

     So one day I will be in a better place in my life and the pool will be someone else’s problem. No more algae, no more leaves and dirt in the water, no more lazy skimmer.  Good riddance.