When you return somewhere familiar, you expect to see the same faces. As if time froze while you were away. You expect to see the kid who used to stand on the diving board, preparing mentally for several minutes before performing...a front dive. Maybe he'd be a little taller, but you'd recognize his seriousness. You look for the girl with the big goggles who would breathe in dramatically when she emerged from the water, and you'd think you needed to save her life, but then she'd do the exact thing over and over. She'd walk along the pool deck wearing her goggles, hiding her true identity, so we just called her Weezie. You watch to see if the 10, 8 and 7-year-old brothers--who got pegged as trouble makers but were actually nice kids--were still taking cigarette breaks on the park bench overlooking the tennis courts. You'd look for the other brothers who wore thick glasses. They'd take them off to jump off the high dive. Their mom said that the water below would have looked 100 feet down due to their poor eyesight.
None of these kids are here, and you realize that those little kids wouldn't just be taller now. They'd be grownups, probably with kids of their own.
But watching Richie stand in the 2 foot 6 inch water with his chin in the air to breathe, I remembered, as a little kid, calling this area the "big pool." There seemed to be thousands of kids in this area, diving for sponge balls and getting whistled at for playing too rough. It was wierd to try a handstand in this area one summer and realize I was too tall. Seeing Johnny swim back and forth under water, I remembered doing this for five hours at a time, taking breaks only during the torturous adult swims.
Afterwards, Richie said, "That's nice that I could stand there. We could go back and take a picture."
He wanted to preserve for posterity what a big boy he was. He'd remember, looking at the photo, how big the pool used to be before time passed and made it small.
But it's always big to somebody. The more things change, the more they stay the same.