the olive pool
do i love you because you're beautiful
Every year around this time, the heat makes me maniacal about swimming. I’ve been known to take a four-hour round trip C train to get to the Rockaways, rent a zip car (ok fine, join zip car) to drive to Jacob Riis beach, and bribe the Williamsburg Hotel to go in for a dip. Historically, I always end up back at the McCarren Park pool, an Olympic sized public pool where all you need to get in is a towel and a padlock. It’s heaven.
Right now, we’re living in upstate New York beside a body of water described by local signage as a creek, but which seems to be more of an ever-present puddle. I don’t know. Fly fishers engage with it, but no one seems to use it for swimming. I’ve gotten as far as the edge; the water gurgles by suspiciously, depositing faint pink sediment on the dinosaur-egg-sized rocks of its banks. Birds of prey fly overhead at a high velocity, like a raptor highway. It’s jurassic.
Which is why I’ve become obsessed with the highly exclusive Olive Pool. Olive is the next town over, and as far as I can tell, their entire municipal presence is organized around maintaining and protecting this pool, which is, to put it mildly, a utopia. Nestled into the crux of a winding mountain road, the pool’s crystal clear waters and pristine white recliners are guarded by a scarlet-clad army of teenagers who only care about one thing: whether or not you really live in Olive.
For $100 a season, Olive residents get unlimited access to this glorious pool, where they can swim and sunbathe unencumbered by grasping, conniving non-Olive residents like me. All it takes to get a pass is an Olive mailing address. Or a letter vouching for you from someone from an Olive mailing address.
Is it insane to buy property in a town because you want to be a member of a pool? I think probably, but it’s important to make a distinction in life between things we can’t do and things that are distasteful to us. Is it insane to rent an airbnb in Olive and ask for the electric bill and also a letter vouching for your “residence” from said airbnb host? Also probably. Should I steal the mail out of an Olive resident’s mailbox? That’s elegant. KIDDING. (or am I?).
What is it about the Olive Pools of this world that make us lose our minds? Are they really so glorious that submerging our toasty bodies in their cool waters would literally transform us into the people we always knew we could be? Or is it simply that we’re just wired to want what we can’t have? I have a theory, but I’ll need access to the Olive Pool to confirm.
Next week, I have the last event of Ursa Tour, but we’re going out with a real bang—I’ll be speaking with author extraordinaire Dawnie Walton courtesy of A Great Good Place for Books at 7 pm PT (10 pm ET).
Wishing you a safe and happy week—may we all be as steadfast and productive as Freddie, in his attempts to find someone to play with him and his pink octopus.
Totally relate to your/my need to swim - alot and in my case everyday when I Sam née our heavenly lake in the Verdon where our house is situated. I admit we bought this ruin 30 odd years ago just so I could I fully self in the turquoise waters.