I’m back from a quick four-day trip to Florida to meet Bridget, who moved from CT to Fresno last October. We met in Orlando where she is attending a work conference. After sitting in on lectures and manning the wellness booth during the expo, showcasing whatever a medical conference showcases, Bridget always knew where to find me, poolside. The rain further south never migrated North leaving us sweaty and hot during the dry and humid days, the perfect climate for staying close to the pool where I would find relief by gingerly wading into the clear, cold water until the jolt of pain subsided and I could plunge in up to my ear lobes.
The staff at the hotel hosted hourly poolside shenanigans for the kids, water balloon toss, hula hoop contest, salsa dancing. Every hour on the hour a voice boomed through the speakers, strategically planted around the pool to pipe in music, announcing the upcoming fun. Kids also slid feet first into wading pools from slides too high for me to even consider. The sight of the staircase I would need to climb to get to the top was enough to cause anxiety.
I’ve seen people let loose at every conference I’ve ever been to and this one was no exception. One afternoon as I lazily relaxed in my lounge chair I overheard three young guys talking next to me.
“That’s disgusting,” a young, trim, dark-haired guy said.
“I haven’t gotten that hammered in a long time,” his friend, who didn’t look old enough to drink, said.
I looked in the direction they were focused on and saw two men, older than the guys sitting next to me, swaying on the concrete. An employee, hand holding tight to one man’s arm, spoke low into a walkie-talkie. Whenever he tried to let go the man listed to his left, unable to right himself, until the employee grabbed him. The other man was being held up by a woman they were with. Within minutes another employee appeared and they, along with the woman, helped the men navigate through the sea of lounge chairs, tables and people to, I assume, their rooms and their beds. The three young guys shook their heads and went back to their smart phones.
Another day, after picking my spot away from the crowd and toward the back of the pool, I noticed the sign – splash zone. I thought about moving but had already stripped down to my suit and had fitted out my lounge chair with two towels. I was surprisingly entertained; families knew to play at this end of the pool. Two men threw a football to 2 boys and a girl. The older boy had a nice spin on the ball, the younger boy and girl tossed it like a bean bag. A family of five shot hoops in a net set up alongside one wall of the pool. A man helped a young boy by holding him up close to the net so he’d have a chance at scoring. When it was his turn, another boy jumped into the pool sideways with the ball in his arms and gave it a slam dunk. A mom showed her daughters and son how to do a handstand and how to do a backflip; she spotted them, encouraged them, and showed off her own talents. When dad joined them he scooped up the younger girl, told her to plug her nose and tossed her into the water. His other daughter jumped on his back demanding a piggy back ride.
The other days were more of the same; families, friends and conference attendees found time to play poolside. Everyone was cutting loose in their own way.