Tag Archives: community

Observations from the Pool

The pool.

I hear angels sing when I even think of it.
The Tree House had a good pool – it wasn’t over-the-top fancy, but it also was fantastically under-utilized by the majority of the building, leaving me and a small group of smarties to soothe away our mid-August urban angst without jockeying for position too much. (My “position” was under the big old tree that drooped in from off the street over the wall, shading my pastiness pale loveliness from the direct sun.)
Granted – since Jr. joined the scene pool time has two different versions – the one where he is with me and we have a giant bag of puddle-jumpers (Google it, until two days ago I had no idea these things had an actual name, but it is THE toddler pool accessory to sport, fo’ sho,) and graham crackers and SPF 1000 (ok, that’s always been in my bag – I really am pretty much translucent;) and the one where I am having “me” time, which involves magazines and a family-sized single-serving of some sort of “sangria” that I mixed up with random crap from the kitchen and cheap chardonnay.

Regardless – the pool is VERY important. So when we set out to drag the whole part-and-parcel of the fam out here, I impressed upon Alyssa-the-wonder-realtor that finding a subdivision with a pool was muy importante.
She came through, bless here realtor-y little heart, and we have a great pool, with HEAPS of shade for our chalky selves, complete with baby pool for Jr. (I know, I know, THE PEE! THE SNOT! THE GAWD-KNOWS-WHAT-ELSE! But seriously, he’s two, he likes a smaller body of water. I am down with that.)
That being said – the view from under the pergola at a suburban subdivision pool is a far cry from my shaded corner of urban respite, where the gossipy gay couple from the 8th floor floated off last night’s hangover face down on rafts in the deep end, and the just-starting-out married kids from the 1st floor shared generic ciggys under the perpetually-about-to-break umbrella at the aging picnic table.

What an eyeful I have now.

My first thought after plunking my towel down to stake claim on a lounger during a solo recon trip last summer was “Has the mom population of my hometown always been so taunt, tight, tanned and toned!?”
(Holy ta-tas, mamas- You Go Girls!!)

Packs of tweens and teens migrate daily to the suburban oaisis – I feel like a zoologist observing their interactions from behind my giant sunglasses- or like there should be National Geographic documentary narration dubbed in: “Here we get a close up view of a small pack of middle schoolous tween-angstivous as they undertake their complex social interactions. This group comes to the water each day seeking pizza and a chance to cool down. We observe the group, but when they are in herd formation, interaction can be risky.”

The Mr. does not pool. At least not at this moment in his life. Growing up in the ‘burbs of Houston, he pooled it up plenty in his youth, but currently it is not his thing.
This would irritate me more, except I want to reach out and flick some of the dads I see at the pool with their families, much of the time. The entrance of said family into the pool area pretty much says it all: Here comes dad – 50 feet in front of everyone, carrying nothing, not looking back at all, just walking. Trailing behind might be an older kid, carrying his or her own towel and water bottle. Way behind that is mom – holding the hand of a toddler wearing one water-wing who REALLY wants to run/jump/something else dangerous. On top of her is piled every possible thing that the entire family might need for the day; towels and duckie floaties and a picnic basket and goggles and sunblock and hats and so much other crap that you mistake her for a pack mule as she wrestles her load along, clinging to toddler’s hand and drilling holes in the back of her far-off husband’s neck.
Nope.
It’s cool honey, you go golf it up. I’ll skip that scene, thanks.

Incidentally, tattoos go over even better here than at the rec center. Do not be alarmed, neighbors!
I just want to cool my own kiddo off in the pee baby pool and do all I can to assure that he understands the awesome that is the pool.

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Time flies?

So.
It’s been a year.
I knew we were close to the date, but wasn’t sure exactly until we got our automated “it’s been a year since you closed on your home!” email from our realtor.

I guess I should stop saying I “just moved back” now, eh?

Still a total fish out of water, but I did finally find a hair stylist I love (if I moved, she’d totes be commute worthy,) and we see a lot more Grayton than we do Mega Coon (YOU BASTARD,) of late;  as predicted I haven’t suffered from a lack of 2 a.m. grocery access, and we continue to grow a list of freaking awesome restaurants and funky shops that are local and amazing.
In addition,  we are sneezing distance from achingly delish humanely produced Beef, Bison, Eggs, Poultry,  Lamb, and Cheese and the pricing is better because I drive to them instead of them driving to the farmers market in the city. (Mmmmmm….meeeeeeeat.)

I’ve even cracked my way into the good graces of one of the neighborhood SAHMs. (Well, Jr did really,  they have a kiddo his age and she’s been warm in welcoming us to come play a bit after my working-mom self collects Jr from daycare. )
Guess they figure we aren’t going anywhere;  and that crazy blonde lady isn’t going to stop running all over the hood with her tattoos hanging out, dragging her punk band t-shirt wearing toddler behind her in the wagon looking for some playdate action, so they are giving in.

A few months into this family exodus from our urban beginnings, a like-minded coworker told me that although her current address wasn’t her ideal abode locale, it is about blooming where you are planted.

Maybe, just maybe, that is what I am learning to do.

(But seriously… it’s a minivan, not a tank, “ladies.”  Let’s keep it cool out there –  the waterpark/library/grocery store/dance class/what-the-hell-EVER you are late to isn’t going anywhere, and there will be 800 free parking spots for that monstrosity when you roll up.)

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Who I was when I was here before.

The scary-ass truth of the whole mess is that this town made me who I am – I am forcing it to own up, even if it doesn’t want to.

Because before I was the walking mound of dorkbomb awesome I am today,  I was Tiny Me – one half of the town fixture set of sweet little blonde twins riding bikes and going to dance class and selling Girl Scout cookies and generally doing our gleeful little girl thang in the Colorado sunshine of our safe and friendly hometown. (Gosh we were cute.)

Time passed – and I was Teenage Me.  Not really a bad thing, unless you are my mom (sorry, mommy…  love you.  Seriously.)  Even then – in all my teenage angst – I was still very connected to our growing burg.  I sat on the Coordinators’ board at the local teen center from 6-12th grade. Hell my graduation speech was about how our little town had grown up with my class.

I got to try on all the different identities that appealed to my fickle Gemini teenage girl self – here where mountains-meet-prairie-meet-civilization they all made perfect sense.

-Wanna-be College Kid Me, in her Birkenstocks and wool socks baking in the sun over a cup of coffee and some pretentious novel on University Hill, nursing the broken heart of my  College Boy first love lost and buzzing back and forth to Boulder in a rusted out $600.00 Honda Civic covered in political bumper stickers. All “student council VP” and “I’m SO testing out of this class and graduating early” and overwhelming desire to get things started already.

-Angry New Wave Me,  bangs spiked straight up in the air with a mixture of egg whites and Aqua Net, Smiths t-shirt and worn out Vans cast off from the skater boy next door – smoking cigarettes under the street lamp in the middle of our tiny street with the rest of the suburban hood rats trying so hard to rebel.  (Gasp! SMOKER!! Don’t worry – grown up Keri did give it up.)  So much attitude and black eyeliner, I am lucky both came off as I got older.

-Country Sunshine Me,  cowboy boots and boot cut jeans and the reason the Bull-Riders Only logo (about 1 inch big) is tattooed on my left shoulder – not that you notice with the others that have come along since. Throwing my overnight bag in the back of the Cherokee and hauling up to Cheyenne with my oldest friend for some family hospitality and country boys, Thelma and Louise style. (Well, sans the whole “death” thing… you know.)  Hitting up the tiny county rodeos with my dad, farmer tans deepening as we walked the stalls looking the livestock up and down.

And a bajillion little mini-personas that came and went, no-harm-no-foul, as we all went through our days growing up here.  Convening at the Country Kitchen Cafe, or the 7-11, or (for the most private and sacredly secret conferences,) the hill where the water tower (now towers) presides over the town spreading out before it – where we could stand and stare out and speak into the drop off, not looking at the other person, knowing the wind might well blow the words away if we weren’t quite ready to have them truly known.

If you consider all of those versions of me – then City Me  Current Me, makes perfect sense.  An enigma, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a sarcastic comment, peppered with tattoos, cozied in a cardigan, rocking a pair of well worn-in cowboy boots.

I may be marinated in 17 years of city grit, but I am the monster they created here.

When I think of it like that – it is actually REALLY easy to want Jr to have every bit of the same.

Awww – she got sappy.  LAME!!

( Add that to the description: “wrapped in sappieness.”  I am uncontrollably, unabashedly sappy – and it is always a sneaker, Ninja-style Sap attack that leaves people going “awww man, she did it AGAIN!  I need another beer if she is gonna get that way about stuff.”  I know.  I just don’t care.)

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Crosswalks.

Honk all you want, mini-van road warriors, I am NOT pulling forward in to the crosswalk at a red light.
Crosswalks in the suburbs are like a really fat line drivers think you stop in the middle of or something.
To be fair, when young-and-stupid me lit-out for the “big city” years ago, this was actually a habit I had to unlearn. After all, I had spent over 3 years driving around in the very town where we now dwell.
:::shudder, SMH, shudder:::: (the disbelief still sneaks up on me sometimes.)
I distinctly remember a few red light stops that involved angry bike messengers, winos, punkers-in-groups, etc, banging on a portion of my old Cherokee, gesturing toward the crosswalk my front tires were resting firmly in, and giving me the “WTF!?” angry eyes.
I learned quick, the crosswalk is actually supposed to be available for use to those trying to get across the street (go figure, right?) and was not designed as a space for motorists to let their vehicles creep into as they grew impatient for green-means-go.
I actually assumed that with the HUMONGAZOID growth of this particular burg, the crosswalk-as-stop-zone thing would have phased out of the driving pattern around her.
NO MA’AM!

Stopping completely behind the crosswalk frequently results in horrifying moments when I look in the rearview and panic as I watch the dummy behind me hauling A up to the rear of Frederico Escapé (yes, my car has a name,) and seriously doubting that the offending idiot is going to be capable of executing a complete stop without mangling my “Native” bumper sticker.
Not only that, but as I go to shoot the universally understood “narrowing eye daggers” to alert said late-stopper to the fact that I KNOW you were doing wrong, buddy, that look is always answered with the aforementioned “WTF!?” angry eyes!! In the minds of my fellow motorists in the burbs, I am the problem because I stopped short. I even got a HONK once, as if I had stopped half a block back and started fishing in back for my kid’s binky or something. (Oh wait, I am the only one who DOESN’T do that around these parts.– a move which seems totally acceptable out here.)
Basically, if they can’t see a herd of middle-schoolers heading toward the crosswalk, protected by the flashing lights of a “school zone,” the crosswalk doesn’t exist in the minds of these people – you have to make a HUGE SCENE about staking a claim on the crosswalk as a pedestrian, or it is fair game for every driver out here.
Well TOO BAD, Suckers – because I am not picking up what you are putting down when it comes to this.
Look out, I might just decide to come up to your window and explain, using more than dagger eyes, just how it all works.

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Mr. Rogers must have skipped some steps.

The neighbors.

The neighbors are all nice enough people, for sure.  We wave and say hello and there are the occassional BBQs or football game viewing incidents and everyone is friendly enough, you betcha.

But there seem to be two distinct groups that get a lot of social action in the subdivisions, and anything in between gets – well – not-so-much.

Group 1 is the stay-at-home moms.  These women stay safely tucked away inside their little homes in the mornings,  attending to morning rituals for their families behind closed blinds and plantation shutters, prepping for activities later in the day.  The only interaction you may have with one of them alone and before 2:30 pm is a quick wave if you happen to be passing by as they back the mini-van out of the garage and speed away to swimming lessons or music class.

It is in the afternoon and evening that they emerge, in pairings or threes, to stand on lawns sipping Starbucks (I feel like someone must have one built into her basement around here – they always have S-bux, but no actual S-bux run seems to have been made,) and laughing as they supervise their combined broods at play on various bikes, trikes, scooters, etc…

In the suburbs you can spot them by looking for one of these:

Image from Amazon - click if you need to identify your own group of S-bux sipping mommies in the yard.

Image from Amazon – click if you need to identify your own group of S-bux sipping mommies in the yard.

Now I am all for safety.  Oh, and kiddos.  I love me some kiddos – I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.  Fo’ Sho’.

However,  with the amount of play equipment strewn all over in between the houses where these various mommies live, there is little doubt, even without the glowing plastic child waving a flag and staring at me from under his ball cap, that there are wee ones at work in the area.  I digress.

So there are the Moms and the Starbucks cups and their neon plastic watchman all hanging out in front of where a group of variously aged offspring are cavorting – this SEEMS like a great time to grab Jr and go make nice.

Except as you rattle your little red wagon full of kid and ball and bubbles and other fun-time peace offerings toward the group the laughter stops.  The moms stop chatting.  The kids stop playing.  Birds stop flapping their wings and fall smack out of the clear blue sky, (ok, that isn’t true, but still,)  the air almost seems to stop moving.  They all stare at you, pulling the bundle of cutie kiddo who wants to play up to them.  Moms stare.  Kids stare. Neon plastic guy stares (one eye at a time.)

Oh they wave and say hi, and the kiddos do too, but the wagon keeps rolling because there is clearly no room at the inn,  and as you walk away you hear snippets of “oh, SHE works outside the home, he’s in daycare somewhere.”   😦

They are thick as thieves and the door is NOT open to moms who might be closing down a conference call to cul-de-sac it for a bit.  Working moms need not apply for membership into that crew.

Group 2 is The Husbands.

Sigh.  Sad but true, this group cares not about employment or anything else – you just straight up have to have a wang to get in.    It actually includes guys in their teens all the way up through the silver fox set, and everyone in between who can pee standing up.   The Mr. was welcomed right into the fold, drinking beers on the driveway and bonding in that special way that dudes do:

(thanks, King of the Hill)

Yep.

Attempts to elbow in on this behavior have not gone well.   A largeish group of bros yucking it up over beers on the curb will scatter quickly if say, a super awesome, (and pretty,  and funny, and cool,) wife comes sniffing around, even if she holds up her beer and says “yep” and attempts to siddle up next to them without making waves.

Also – cue the side-eye from my own husband, who seems to think I am jeopardizing his status in the pack.

Giant super pouty sigh.

It’s cool.  I have my kid, we have our wagon. We both like to roll with roadies when we take it for a spin; and I usually go in for something stronger than S-bux on those occasions, although this is interesting:

Thank you, Cheezburger.com

Thank you, Cheezburger.com

Plus we usually have a few Sesame Street characters along too, so we roll mad deep, yo.

Oh Mr. Rogers – you always made it look so easy.

(PS – is it because I say things like “we roll mad deep, yo”?  Oh well – can’t change the spots on this leopard.)

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