I’ve lived in apartments all my life, so it was with great pleasure that I accepted the offer to housesit for some friends.

The 10 days I spent there were wonderful. I loved having a washer and dryer at my fingertips, the quiet street, the starry skies at night and the meticulously maintained grounds of this planned community.

But my favorite part of the housesitting experience, hands down, was the pool.

Now, I have to share a bit of irony. I’ve been the editor of Pool & Spa News for seven years, and though I’ve swum in municipal pools thousands of times, I have limited experience with more private facilities.

This pool was open only to residents of the community, and there was a feeling of familiarity between all guests. As a gathering place, it attracted people across the full spectrum of life: Small children played in the shallow end while teenagers gleefully competed to make the biggest splash. Some parents took pleasure in teaching their kids how to swim while others enjoyed reading quietly. Older residents sat in the shade, sipping cool drinks and playing cards.

It was a tiny piece of heaven in the middle of suburban America.

I’ve loved pools since I was young, and have always believed they play an important role in family life. However, it wasn’t until I sat on that deck and watched wonderful memories literally being created in front of my eyes that I understood how our amazing product unifies otherwise disparate groups of people.

Pools represent everything that’s good in life. Friendships are formed, lovers find each other, and laughter comes easily. How lucky we are, even in tough times, to be in the business of water. This miraculous substance can carve a giant canyon out of the earth as easily as it can shape one small, happy community.

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