This afternoon I had the pleasure of hanging with a group of friends at the pool at my favorite local country club. I live in country club town. Though I lack country club wages, I am fortunate enough to have several friends who belong to what I consider the nicest place in town, so I glom on with gratitude. This particular spot was built, as I understand it, as a golf course for Ben Hogan. I wish I could say I was a golfer. But my hangout is the spot to which wives and children were relegated and which I visit with delight. I call it The Flamingo Kid pool--for some reason, the minute I walk in I think of Janet Jones in her white swimsuit--and for the last five or six years, the kids and I have gotten to spend two or three splendid afternoons a summer there.
I hadn't been in a bathing suit since Memorial Day. Work has been overwhelming and our DC vacation didn't allow for lazing about beside the pool. It felt good today to take the Texas summer stance: in the water for two hours, beverage in hand, wearing sunscreen and chatting with cool women about kids and life until my fingers get so prune-like I know it's time to get out and sit in the 100-degree shade. The children splashed around (alas, due to an incident, the high board was closed; my son's record is 52 jumps off it, and both he and I were disappointed his ritual could not continue) but we munched on poolside food and everyone got a little bit of sun.
Finally the lazy early evening wound down, and we all sauntered out, consoling one another about the return tomorrow to school days and real life. For me, real life lasts all summer, as working parents' weeks get a little more rather than less complicated when school is out. But still, having to get the kids up early and someplace on time after they've spent three months sleeping in is an adjustment. So is the idea that next year I'll have a child in high school and another in middle school. The sweet days of the elementary years will be behind us, and the big bad world of cliques and AP classes and driving school and college prep classes await.
Last Friday I heard a wonderful replay of an interview with John Mellencamp on Fresh Air. I recommend it, as although Terry Gross can irritate me beyond belief, she does ask some pretty good questions. (And, with what I can only assume is tremendous restraint, she never uses the words, 'ubiquitous snare drum'. What a professional.) And he is a self-described scrappy old liberal folk singer.. At any rate, she remarks upon Mellencamp's discussions of mortality in his work, and a fascinating discussion ensues.
The line with which she launches the conversation is about mortality, but I think it's also a good reminder about when to take a breath and savor moments with our children, despite our ninety-mile an hour lives:
"Life is short, even in the longest days." Back to school we go.