We took our pool down the other day. The cool breeze of autumn is forcing the leaves from their place in the Oaks that surround our home. The heat of the sun has dampened, and we no longer need the cool water to survive or pass the days. It was a horrid mess to drain the water into the yard - 2,000 gallons let loose into soil that tends to stay damp with even the slightest rain. To dry and fold the weight of the fetid vinyl was a feat of its own. Underneath the pool was a mess of molded, wet grass that smelled of manure and had birthed its own ecosystem. It only took a few days before the sun dried the dead grass and removed the stench, but now we're left with a large brown spot among the acres of green.
My children spent hours in the water when the sun was scorching. Into the pool we went when the energy level of five children grew too manic for the indoors. The fluidity of water, of life, was seamless - no edges to work around, no corners to place children in. Diving and laughing, the crack and hiss of a cold beer while floating on a raft - it was divine. Now, when I stand at the kitchen sink and scrape the remnants of dinner into the trash, soapy water to my wrists, I find myself staring out the window at that damn browned spot.
I never had a pool growing up, or much laughter for that matter. My life was a filter that caught all of the dead and dark matter, smudging my soul with the faint stink of manure. I've carried this propensity to take the good moments and feel emptier from the space they've left in their passing. Worse almost than if they'd never existed at all. I look at the ugly patch of our lawn and it seems like an appropriately large nothingness; the beautiful thing that was, and is no more. It's been home to me in this strange way. Nothing concrete - the tangible brick and drywall - but the negative spaces that look more like holes, moments you can never get back.
My children are helping me change this. They have become my hot sun, drying the stagnation of things passed, slowly, very slowly, helping me to shift my focus from the shadow of what was, to the substance of what is. They are handing my childhood back to me, calling me to a home I've never before known.