Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at a friends’ house for a pool party. I knew they had built a water slide but I didn’t realize just how much fun the day would be. It reminded me of my teenage years when I spent practically entire summers at my best friends’ house, where she had a pool and a diving board.
The summer I turned 14, I became friends with a girl 2 years older than me. We shared the same level of adventure with all kinds of outdoor activities; hiking, riding bikes, playing softball and doing gymnastics. I had always wanted to learn how to do tricks off the diving board, but never had the opportunity to learn. Since she had the pool and board, she already knew how to do front and back flips and a couple of cool dives. I quickly learned how to do the flips and dives she knew, and we spent the rest of summer (and all of the following summer) teaching ourselves crazy twisting dives, one and a half front flips and anything new we could think of. At one point, my feet had gotten so raw from the grip on the diving board that I wore my lightweight Keds tennis shoes while diving to protect my feet. These ridiculous diving tricks transferred over into trampoline tricks and into my gymnastics classes as well.
I think I had no fear of doing these things because I was young but also it was really easy to basically throw myself into the air. I was 5’1″ and 85 pounds the summer I turned 14 (and about to start high school) but by the time I was 16, I had grown a few inches and my gymnastics teacher told my mom that if I kept growing, it was going to get more difficult for me to do these tricks. He was right and by the time I was 17 and 5’6″, I stopped gymnastics and just did silly diving stuff for fun. By the time I was 22, I had stopped growing at 5’8″ and 120 pounds, so hurling myself through the air off of the diving board was much harder than it used to be and I didn’t do much off of diving boards after that.
When my kids were in their early teens (and I was 35) our neighbor, who had a pool and diving board and was going on vacation, offered for us to use their pool while they were away. We went over there one afternoon and as soon as I saw the diving board, I wanted to do all the old tricks off of it that I had learned in high school. I had that same feeling when you haven’t ridden a bicycle for a long time; as soon as you get on it, you totally remember how to ride. I spent the next 2 hours doing all of those old flips and dives and teaching the kids how to do them. (Ryan figured them out right away but Nolan was afraid to do a lot of them back then, but totally does all of them now.) I finally stopped because my legs were tired, and I had a little bit of a headache.
The next day, I woke up and EVERYTHING hurt. I felt like I had been in a horrible car accident. I’m pretty sure I had whiplash and every muscle and joint in my body was angry. That’s when I remembered that I was 35, not 15, and as much fun as that was, my days of hurling myself through the air on purpose were pretty much over.
When I got to my friends’ house yesterday and saw this 96 foot underground tube water slide they had installed up the hill in their backyard that shot you straight out into the middle of the pool, I was excited to try it but hesitant that I would either hurt one of my limbs or take skin off my back on the way down. I got up the courage to do it and it was awesome. No injuries, no pain, just a ton of fun.
As I was leaving the party a few hours later, I walked toward a little stone bridge that goes over a waterfall into the pool to say goodbye to a friend on the other side of it. There were two people standing on the edge of the waterfall wall trying to learn how to do a backflip off of it. I couldn’t resist. I set down my purse and towel, kicked off my shoes, and fully clothed, walked to the edge of the wall and did a backflip into the water just like I had done when I was younger, and it felt pretty damn good. I learned my lesson 10 years ago on how I’d feel if I kept going, so after that one flip, I got out of the pool and grabbed my things and headed home.
I am happy to report that I didn’t wake up feeling like I’d been in a car accident. I did, however, wake up feeling grateful that I got to spend an afternoon with really wonderful friends and knowing that in small doses, I can totally still hurl myself through the air.
I didn’t get a photo of launching down the water slide or doing a backflip off the wall yesterday, but my friend did get a picture of me doing a cartwheel on the beach on my 45th birthday two weeks ago, which was just as much fun.