The summer I was 12, my parents had a swimming pool installed in the back yard — the kind with a blue vinyl liner over several hard-packed inches of sand. There are many, many stories I could tell about that pool, but today I’m remembering my dad cleaning it. He was a teacher and had summers off, so he’d clean the pool every morning and then go golfing.
He’d skim the top first with the long-handled aluminum skimmer pole, then hook up the brush attachment and hose contraption and vacuum the pool. Very slowly, so as not to stir up the stuff on the bottom. Up and down the sides, back and forth across the bottom. Slowly. Seemed like it took forever. I guess he had a routine because you could look out the porch window, note where he was standing, and know exactly how much longer it would take. When he finished vacuuming, he’d skim the top again.
When he was done and it was once again a pristine expanse of shimmering blue water sparkling in the sunlight, you felt like you had to just stand there and appreciate it for a minute. You almost hated to be the first one to jump in and mess it up. Almost.
Today I’m feeling a bit like that pool of glittering vacant water. The events of the week have vacuumed all the interesting stuff right out of me. I’m empty.
There are no acorns or twigs or ponytail holders on the bottom. No leaves or dead bugs or forgotten toys floating on the top. No squirmy salamanders trying to climb the slippery sides or dead moles swirling in the skimmer bucket.
All the good stuff is gone, vacuumed up and skimmed away, leaving me with no interesting thoughts or emotions. Nothing to say.
Pretty soon someone will come along, jump in with a big splash and stir things up again. But for now, the water is still and empty.