Owning a Pool
I dove into deep water Saturday, grateful for the pool heater and the money to pay for the luxury of it. I’m pretty sure that if I had to do it all over again I’d never have invested in a pool. I’m not wealthy, but I might be if I didn’t have it. And since I made the financial leap 13 years ago who am I to ignore it now? A pool has a price that goes beyond the installation and maintenance costs. It’s an anchor in your backyard that holds you just as firmly as a garden does. When I installed the pool I had two young children and a highly active Labrador retriever (dog ear infections from swimming too much: yet another hidden cost). The children are adults now, the retriever has finally escaped the fences of this world, and I’m still looking at a hole in the ground that doesn’t care whether I want it there anymore as long as I feed it money.
To say I have a tenuous relationship with the pool is an understatement. But we’ve recently resolved some of our differences. It involved money, naturally. If time is money, then I’ve given a lot of my lifetime to this pool, and I was feeling a bit resentful. The last straw was the pool heater failing a year ago and the water never really warming up to acceptable levels for the masses. And so it became an expensive water feature in the garden, with trees shading it just enough that it never really got comfortable, even on the hottest days. And so this year we ponied up the cash and fixed the heat exchanger, dodging a $6000 replacement cost with an $800 repair. How long it lasts is anyone’s guess, but the pool is warm enough for the fair weather fans. And I danced the gleeful dance that only a pool owner can understand; I only spent $800 this time!
Look, I know a large percentage of the population is unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. I know that having a pool available when you’re under quarantine is surely a luxury, and don’t think for a minute that I’m not grateful for it now. I’ve been unemployed with the pool and two kids to feed and know both sides of this story. For the moment the pool and I are peacefully coexisting, and I’m grateful for the good fortune. With the kids home all summer, the pool may be used more than it has been in years. But I see the pool liner fading, and the cracks in the stamped concrete, and the louder hum the pump is making, and I know that this toll road continues indefinitely. A pool is a lot like a boat in this way, but without the travel. If there was ever a year to have it, it’s 2020. And so I’ll continue to throw money in the hole and hope for some measure of return on my investment. That ROI is measured in laps, and I have my work cut out for me to make it worthwhile. Better jump in again…