all good things come to an end

IMG_1507… including summer.

It’s not officially over yet, but with August coming to a close and the fall upon us, schools re-opening and buses back on the streets, we’re getting there. For me, summer is at an end because our pool closes this week.

This was the first summer of my life that I had a pool of my own — well, it belongs to the complex we live in, so sadly we have to share it, but you get what I mean. Every other year I’ve been a sporadic swimmer at best, sometimes getting to a pool only once or twice, sometimes not at all. (Beach? In Buffalo? Surely you jest.) But this year, it was every possible day for the entire summer. Am I sad to see it end? Yes… and no.

I like the pool, I do. It’s great for cooling off, though I’m also partial to central air for that, and it wasn’t that hot of a summer to begin with. I like having friends over to the pool, and I like hanging out there with Dave and our cousin Adam. I freely admit I don’t always like the other people, not when they’re rude, or loud, or just annoying. The Real Housewives of Long Island can be funny, but they can also be nauseating. And I’m huge fan of babies in the pool — they’re darn cute in those swimmie-contraptions they have these days, they look like Baby Pool Armor, and they always seem to be having such a blast — but I am not quite as fond of preteens playing endless games of “toothpaste” and jumping in the pool right on top of my head.

I did like the exercise more than I’ve liked any other exercise I’ve done in my life. I swam laps all summer, almost every day, working my way up to 30 a day. I would have liked to do more, but I’ll keep at it next summer. I also discovered I can float effortlessly and can tread water apparently forever (I got bored after 15 minutes and stopped, but don’t think the end was anywhere near), so if we’re ever on the Titanic, Dave can just hang onto me and we’re set.

I won’t miss the chlorine, though. I mean, god knows it’s necessary (all those kids, and no one ever gets out and goes into the bathroom in the clubhouse — you do the math), but the smell is icky. Every day when I get home Fred sniffs my hand disdainfully, and doesn’t warm up until I’ve had a chance to shower. My hair could do without the chemicals, too.

Overall, it was a good summer at the pool, but I confess I’m looking forward to a nice, long, harvesty autumn, and even a cozy warm winter by the fireplace, snug at home.

geographically temporary

A long time ago, someone I thought was a good friend turned out not to be when she said that friendships are “geographically temporary”. Because we no longer lived in the same town, there wasn’t any point in staying friends. That was in another country, and besides, the wench, while not dead, is long unlamented. But I’ve staunchly argued for years the error of her ways.

Of course friends aren’t geographically temporary, not necessarily. Real friendship transcends barriers. Two of my best friends and I have not lived in the same zip code since 1994. Others have moved away and I’ve moved nearer to them. Some friends very dear to my heart have always been an Internet connection away. Distance makes things difficult, but it doesn’t make feelings nonexistant. I met and fell in love with my husband from across the state. And the three years we spent dating long distance was a heck of a lot harder than I could have imagined, but I never once thought of giving up on how I felt for him. Sometimes you have to make an effort when you’re not seeing each other every day, every week, or every month. You have to adjust, but you don’t have to let go.

It doesn’t always work out, though, I guess. Moving here to Long Island has been a little challenging in a number of ways I didn’t expect (oh dear god the accent) but the one I didn’t see coming at all was the way some friendships have started to fade away. It’s 2014, after all, and it’s easier to stay in touch with people than it’s ever been. You’ve got email and text and Skype and Facebook and Twitter; there’s still no teleportation, but it’s damn close. When I was in my twenties I had to keep in touch with my friends through very expensive long distance phone calls, or through — brace yourself — actual real written and mailed letters. While of course we’re all a little relieved it’s easier and cheaper to stay in touch now, I’d venture to say we’d do it again if we had to, because those friendships are invaluable. So when someone stops keeping in touch with you now, when it’s easy, when it takes so little effort… well, the reverse is clearly true, isn’t it?

I’m no saint, and I’ve probably dropped the ball on staying in touch with someone, myself. Maybe I was thoughtless, or maybe, in complete honesty, I meant to. Maybe I’ve put effort into maintaining friendships that mattered the most to me, and let others fall by the wayside. I probably have. We probably all have. Still, while it might be only human, it still hurts. It’s that age-old feeling you get in your stomach when you realize someone meant more to you than you meant to them. It’s a universal experience we’ve all had, from grade school on up — whether it’s a kid in your class, a boy, a girl, a friend, a date, a colleague or anything in between, it always feels exactly the same way whenever you realize that the object of your affection returns the favor with less enthusiasm than your own, and most likely always has.

I don’t think friendship is geographically temporary. But I’m forced to admit that some friendships don’t last and probably weren’t meant to, whether you stayed put or not. Sometimes geography is an easy out, and if that’s the case, then it’s for the best. Happily, though, the reverse is true, and a good friend stays with you no matter how far you go or how long you’ve been away. So thanks, my non-geographical friends, for hanging in there.

calgon, take me away

turtleI’ve been swimming pretty much every day lately, which is notable just because I’ve never been much of a swimmer. I didn’t grow up with a pool and in fact didn’t learn until I was about 11 years old — I taught myself, at the town pool (back in the days when an eleven year-old could get on her bike and ride a mile or two over to the town pool and go in the pool alone). Even so, I’m utterly and deathly and irrationally afraid of going under water, to this day. (And no,that’s not going to change. It wouldn’t be an irrational fear if I could just pull myself together, would it?)

However, now I have a pool where I live. Dave loves the pool. It’s where he spends the summer, every day he can. And I love it too, when it’s sunny and hot and there aren’t screaming children making sounds like mewling goats. Or grown-up Real Housewives of Longuyland talking at a volume that can reach New Jersey. (But I digress.) It’s nice, though, enjoying the water, reading a book by the side, swimming around.

I’m also swimming laps every day, for exercise. I’m trying to get my legs stronger, especially the left leg which has nerve issues. There’s not much you can do about nerve pain, aside from some drugs that I find scary, but if I can build up the leg muscles around that nerve, my pain should be less. I do half my laps propelling myself as much as possible with just my legs, letting them do the work. And it’s great exercise in general, which goes along with my other big project of late.

Truth be told, though, what I really like to do, when it’s not crowded, is float. Just float. I’ve never been a great swimmer, but I can float on my back for as long as I like, with no effort at all. I don’t know why. People who weigh more, they say, float better — fat is less dense than muscle — but that can’t be it, because I’ve always been able to do this. Skinny, heavy, eleven years old or forty-two, it’s always been the same. And it’s the most peaceful, most wonderful thing in the world, floating on top of the water, eyes turned up to the sky, arms stretched out or even clasped behind my head, the clicking noises of the pool filter loud in my ears and every other noise muffled away to nothing. Maybe everyone has one little skill and this one’s mine — if so, I’ll take it.

(Mind, I’d still like teleportation, too, if it’s available.)

do you know the way to santa fe?

88px-NY-347.svgI started a new job a couple weeks ago. I like it very much, and the hours are great. Apparently the woman I’m replacing — she retired — was a bona fide hoarder, however, and the office is filled with pile after pile of papers, folders, Sweet & Low packets, old used stamps, and sheets of yellowed labels. There is no rhyme or reason to it, and some of those piles contains fairly important things, including invoices, requisition forms, even (so far) two checks. It’s a disaster, and if you know me, you know every minute I’m around that kind of disorganization makes me want to jump out of my skin. So I’m trying to work my way through it, a little more cleaned out each day, but — good lord.

Anyhow, the thing that I’m noticing the most about my new job isn’t about the job at all. It’s about the drive back and forth, getting ready in the morning, coming home when I’m done. It’s the strangest thing, but it’s almost as if having a job is what’s finally making me feel at home here.

I don’t mean our apartment. I’m very at home there, and I remain as enamored of our laundry sorter, our balcony, and our fireplace as I was right from the get-go. I’m even happier at home now that our crazy-ass downstairs neighbor moved out to torture someone else. The new neighbors have two loud, noisy, yappy dogs, and it’s like heaven to us — normal people making normal noise, and not getting mad at us for walking across a carpeted floor in our socks at two in the afternoon. But I digress — our apartment has always felt like home, and I love it there.

It’s the neighborhood, I guess, that I felt strange in. The general area. I mean, I don’t usually know where I am. I sometimes get the general direction of where we’re going, but it’s all sort of vague. The city is thattaway. Dave’s mom’s is the opposite direction I think it’s in. The closest Chipotle is just way too far away, but doable in a pinch. Shop Rite is not where my GPS says it is (it’s just a bunch of trees! there’s no store in there, I checked), and on my way back from Astoria I spent a lot of time driving in circles in Flushing Meadows, because Apple Maps declared I had gone off the grid. In other words, I got so lost, satellites couldn’t find me.

Suffice to say, I’m still not great at getting around on my own. I’ll probably be using my GPS for awhile, even if it evidently can’t always be trusted. But at least now I go back and forth most days to the same place. I stop at the same red lights, see the same businesses, go around the same bend. It’s only a few miles of road that have become familiar, most of it strip malls and developments and Whole Foods. But it’s mine, and it’s familiar, and that’s a start.