Dreams are silly, strange things. You can dream the same dream for 20 years with little variation, or you can have different dreams about something you just did or saw that night. If the last thing you watched before you went to bed was a rerun of "CSI," then your dreams may be filled with sunglass-removing and witty one-liners. Or, you may dream yet again of the time you went to school naked (the nudity is symbolic - has anyone ever really gone to school naked?).
Something I have dreamed about over and over and over for most of my life is the swimming pool in the Jamestown Village apartments, where I grew up. There was a pool a few buildings down from mine, and a bigger one across the street at the clubhouse. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, I lived at the pool. My friends, my cousins and I would swim and sunbathe until our bathing suits were reduced to tatters and our hair turned green from chlorine.
In dreams, I see myself swimming in the bright blue-painted pool, which reflected aquamarine glitter into your eyes and seemed like diving into another sky. Sometimes I'm lying on the warm concrete around the pool in the warm sun, sometimes it's night at one of the night swims they would hold once a summer. Sometimes I'm a kid, sometimes I'm an adult. Sometimes the pool is relatively how it looked in real life, sometimes its size and depth were greatly exaggerated by my imagination.
I am pretty sure I know why I dream about the pool. As I said last week, for kids, summer is king. There is nothing like the freedom, the endless carefree days of summer. The pool represents youth, freedom, happiness and joy, at least in my muddled psyche. It also represents fleeting time, an hourglass running low, a sign to enjoy the things you love while you can before age or Labor Day rob you of them forever.
There are variations. Sometimes kids I knew are there, both as young and present-day versions of themselves, and sometimes people I know as an adult, who have never been to the pool, are there. One of the dreams had my friend's band playing around the edge of the pool as everyone swam, and then they jumped into the pool with their electric guitars and drums, which would mean certain death in reality but made for a whimsical and fun time in dreamland.
Sometimes the dreams aren't so carefree. Probably signifying anxiety in my life, sometimes I dream that I want to go to the pool, but my parents or a swimsuit that seems to be made of melting rubber keep preventing me from getting there. When I finally get my suit on and run out of the back door toward the pool, I find that it just closed. What a bummer.
I still feel the anxiety of summer as an adult. I know there are only so many days off work and weekends without stuff to do that I can enjoy a day at the beach. I feel almost a pressure to try to swim or take out my kayak as much as I possibly can in the summer, which means either a lot of trips to the lake or trying in vain to find someone I know with a pool. The North Side pool near my house is lovely, but I feel weird being the only adult surrounded by tons of kids.
My mom always said my brother and I were water babies; we learned to swim as soon as we could walk, practically. That's probably why I was a lifeguard for a summer, and my brother worked on a cruise ship for a summer. There's something about the weightlessness of water, probably going back to the whole being-in-the-womb thing, that is divinely enjoyable.
Sadly, the pool from my dreams has been plowed over - I drove by it recently and saw nothing but grass. It enjoyed many summers of countless kids climbing up and down the ladder, diving in and splashing around. Even though it's gone, the swimming pool is still my utopia, and in temperature-finicky Ohio, time to swim is as fleeting as a summer day.
Got a swimming pool? Can I come over? Let me know at ssepanek@trib
today.com, or comment on this story at www.tribtoday.