It was time for us to leave our newlywed apartment and look for a house, a home to raise a family. The quest was difficult, in a time when houses for sale were rare and interest rates were at double-digits. Yet, on a Sunday afternoon, we found an open-house listed in a newspaper and went to take a look.
It was nothing special, a split-level on a street we would later learn was busier that we suspected on that afternoon. We liked it.
“There’s a pool,” I said. My wife smiled and said “Yeah!”
We made an offer on the house that night. We bought the house – with a pool.
In the years we lived there, my personal goal was to spend at least as much time enjoying that pool as I spent enjoying it. I don’t think the math ever worked in my favor.
But I miss that pool.
I miss it on hot summer nights when I would grab a beer, turn on the radio to listen to a baseball game and drift in a floating lounge chair, with a cupholder, and let whatever baggage of the day wash away.
Our sons were born in that house, and they swam in that pool.
But we’re not there anymore.
We moved, moved on – for better and for worse. To a bigger, better house. Then to a smaller house.
We’ve never had another pool.
Don’t we all.
Was once a time when we were told, and we believed that we had nowhere to go but ‘up.’ The world was our oyster, or words to that effect. We would be better than those who came before us. We would be more sincere, more honest, more open, more active and pro-active. We would, and could, change the world.
We believed it.
We believed it on the banks of a hill of a concert drenched in rain. We believed it in a crowd marching down a street with banners and singing songs.
We believed it at polling places.
We didn’t want pools, but that’s where many of us ended up swimming.
We were a generation of change, but we didn’t really change anything, did we?
We went swimming at midnight, with a beer and a ball game, with nary an apology to those ideals we once held high in our youthful commitments.
We wanted to change the world. We settled for swimming pools.
So, I’m sitting here in an apartment, wondering why I don’t have a grandiose house on a hill (with a swimming pool). I’m wondering where I went this way instead of that way, and if those choices were as bad as they seem to have been.
I’m wondering where I drifted away from my ideals – with an acknowledgement that ideals don’t pay the rent – and decided only to live my life to pay the rent. And, I’m wondering if the fact that I can’t always pay the rent might be, in some part, because I walked away from who I am.
I’m wondering if our old, somewhat compromised idea that we could ‘change the world’, was an investment misspent.
I’m thinking that we can’t.
But I want to believe, with whatever folly, that we can.
And I miss my pool.
And I want to know why, and where I have failed. And to be reminded of where, and why I have succeeded.
Because we all do (succeed and stumble). We all win ones, and lose others, don’t we.
And we all get up each morning, dust ourselves off, and go take on the new day.
It’s been a long time since I bought into the American dream. I have seen classmates, friends, and colleagues tossed aside as their services are ‘no longer needed’. I’ve watched great and brilliant people strive to re-invent themselves in a social and economic world that no longer values them – while they (and I) have admittedly failed to react, respond, re-learn, and redefine ourselves and a valued and valuable members of our new economy.
Do we ‘get it?” Maybe.
Can we be good at it? Absolutely.
Can we still ‘Change the world?’ You better believe, we can.
And we’ll find a pool, a baseball game and cold beer….
And maybe, just maybe, we’ll remember how we got here, and our stumbles along the way…and where we need to go.
If and when we do, step aside…and get ready to see where we are going.
We have a pool. The water is fine. Jump in.