Make-Believe Nostalgia

Yesterday I visited a community pool for the first time in a number of years. Growing up, we relied on our friends’ swimming pools because there wasn’t one in our community. In fact, the one I went to today was a small one that I’d never been to before, and I went because my aunt was feeling nostalgic: she used to go to that pool when she was a girl, visiting her aunt in the next county. So she and I went. As it turned out, there was a certain charm about this place that made me somewhat nostalgic for a life I’d never experienced.

My own nostalgia started stirring as soon as my aunt told me how she used to come to this town – only twenty minutes away from our own – and stay with her aunt, and come to this pool with her cousin. I started thinking about who I’d gone to stay with as a kid and what family I’d visited. Where I should have felt nostalgic, it was all made up: my entire family had always been right in my town. There’d never been anyone to go visit away from there.

Later, as my aunt attempted to swim laps around parents holding little kids and small children doing handstands and chasing diving sticks, I sat nearby on the edge of the pool with my legs in the water. To my immediate left was the lifeguard and to my immediate right was a group of about six elementary school boys. They kept doing cannonballs and the lifeguard kept yelling at them, and the only thing I could think about was The Sandlot. If you’ve never seen it, you’re missing out. It’s funny, but it’s also nostalgic to the core. I kept expecting the lifeguard to morph into Wendy Pefferkorn and those little boys to become the kids from The Sandlot. When those boys got kicked out of the pool for doing (what else?) obnoxious cannonballs, I started observing other groups further in the distance, and for the rest of the day was struck by the dichotomy of early and late teenage life that was, in some sense, quite idyllic. Continue reading