The 30 Something Lady and the Sea

The pool pump at our complex broke. It broke early in June. Such a pool you have never seen– huge and saltwater, until this year everyone called it “Hawaii Kai’s public pool,” because everyone and their sister had a key. Then they changed the locks and the pool became blessedly uncrowded.

We used the pool every day. Night swimming was our favorite, going there after the mean heat of the sun had subsided, the lights yellow and hot underwater, just the sounds of the buses veering by through the vinyl fence. Ah, pool.

Well, how long can it take to repair a pool pump? you ask.

Eight weeks.

Eight weeks?

Yes. It broke before Elyse’s birthday, early in June, and we have rescheduled her pool party twice.

“You can still have the party,” the property manager said. “You just can’t use the pool.”

Great. A clubhouse full of kids looking at a pool. Sounds more like torture than a party.

Also, the pool was my big summer plan. The kids got out before Memorial Day, and there are NO KIDS around here to play with during the day, everyone being away on vacation or in summer programs. So my kids are stuck here, with me, and with each other, learning multiplication tables and how many times they can view the superbly bad SUPER MARIO BROS TV show from the 80s (or was it 90s?) on Netflix before Mommy throws her shoe at the TV screen.

Why don’t you just go to the beach? you ask. You live in freakin’ Hawaii.

First, let me say that I have met several Hawaiian born folks who have not been to the beach since they were little. Impossible, you say? Though these were also the type of women you see driving with visors on and holding packages in front of their faces to block out the sun, so afraid are they of the rays. As am I. I just have tinted windows.

Second, the beaches near me are not suitable for kids. Sandy’s is closest, and Sandy’s is not suitable for anyone except the kind of beach bums whose fathers let them start wandering waves when they were four and figured as long as they didn’t drown, eh, what’s the worry? Like my husband. Sandy’s has an ambulance sitting in the parking lot every Saturday, waiting for someone to get hurt.

Waikiki is too crowded for my liking and rather stress inducing for me, which leaves Waimanalo, to the north east-ish of us. Waimanalo is beautiful, but also the park fields are filled with tents and there are car break-ins, and I don’t generally feel comfortable going there solo with the kids. The one kid’s beach, which is a sort of bay, has a teeny-tiny parking lot where people feel completely comfortable triple parking and blocking you in, leaving you stranded forever. This beach is by the house from Magnum, PI, by the way, which Cadillac likes to point out. He just stopped doing it after a year.

Waimanalo Beach Park has waves that are not usually too big, maybe three or four feet tops, but stronger than what I knew in San Diego. Also, Ethan likes to duck under the waves and go ever further out, while Kaiya won’t even get her feet wet these days, so over the ocean is she. Hanauma Bay is usually calm, but the kids and I are true kamaaina now, which means we are officially Tourist Averse. Plus, to get into Hanauma you have to hike down a hill, and, more problematically, up a big hill to get out, which while toting a ton of beach gear and a cranky 4 year old is not the most fun adventure time for mama. If we go to Hanauma, Cadillac packs everything on his back and I just have to skip along. I realize I sound lazy, but come on. I get sunburned at the beach whether it’s 9 am or 5 pm, I get like mortally hurt during a tickle fight, so I do what I can.

So we wait for Cadillac to get home before we go to the beach, to have the Extra Layer of Adult Supervision. He usually gets home by 5, and the sun’s up until at least 7:30 these days.

Elyse has been anti-ocean lately too, so she and Kaiya usually sit on a towel and play or poke at sand crabs while we go out in the water. And this is what happens:

Ethan and dad are in the water at Waimanalo, ducking under waves, boogie boarding or body surfing, and I stand in the shallow part, gauging the waves and their roughness, watching the regularity.

“Come on in!” Cadillac calls. “The waves are gentle today. They’re like cotton. No problem.”

So I wait until one breaks, then jump in and swim to get beyond the breaks. Because that’s what you do, right? You wait until the wave breaks, then there is a lull before the next set.

Then the BIGGEST wave of the day will come along, out of ORDER, not in the set regularity established by the other waves, so impolite, and hits me, churning from all angles and towing me under so I have coral sand wedged under my toenails and I find chunks of it in my hair forever more.

It waits for me, you see.

Today we went with a big sandwich from Safeway and I ventured in, only to see man o’wars getting washed ashore and floating in the waves. I know theoretically there is always the possibility of jellyfish and what have you in the ocean, but I do not like it. This is me, who gets stung by things that aren’t supposed to sting. You’re darn straight I’m staying out of the water.

(Note: Don’t pour vinegar on these wounds, if you get stung; that’s for box jellies. With these you’re supposed to rinse with salt or regular water. I learned that today after a protracted argument with Cadillac and Ethan.)

Ethan suddenly laid on the beach and wailed. “I got stung! It got me!” But Cadillac inspected his leg and noticed a big stick floating nearby– the culprit.

Ethan is obsessed with the jellyfish now. Every time he finds one on the beach, he yells, “Is it alive? I want to touch it!” and we always tell him no, you can’t touch it (how many times do we have to tell him this?) and then he pokes it with a stick. Then there is great delight if it pulses and then I yell, “Don’t touch it! The water’s going to wash it onto your foot!” and the kids run away shrieking.

This is what they look like. Thankfully, there weren’t that many, just a few here and there; this is a swarm in Australia:

So you see why we need the pool?

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

3 thoughts on “The 30 Something Lady and the Sea

  1. What’s Bellows Beach like there days? That’s where we used to swim on Sundays when I lived in Hawaii 25 years ago.

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