Thursday, January 24, 2013

Then I said to myself, "Self," I said...

It's tough being a grownup. There's nobody around to tell you what to do. So when I woke up on Tuesday in a bad mood, and when day finally broke to reveal more thick fog, and I was cold, and the memory of last week's gulps of pool water still made my stomach churn, I didn't want to get dressed, climb on a bus, and walk into a locker room where a bunch of naked women compete for shower space.

Alternating thoughts of You paid for this and I don't care thundered over and over as I drank my coffee, wrote for an hour, and ate a bagel. Just get on the damned bus was the predominant refrain so I did, feeling more nauseated and dismal by the second.

My transfer point is perilously near the acres of remainder tables at the University Bookstore and I was too early for my next bus. When I left with my purchases, I saw my bus on the opposite side of the street, pulling away. By the time the next one arrived, I was close to hypothermia and only the thought of a hot shower pulled me toward the pool.

I entered the locker room, stripped off my clothes, and turned to find every shower spot occupied by the small children whose class came just before mine. Clad only in goosebumps and shivering, I tried not to glare at them as they savored every second of hot water, then hit their spigots for one more turn. Their mothers smiled benignly when I whimpered as pathetically as only a 64-year-old women in the nude is capable of, "But I'm late for my class."

In the pool with 15 minutes of my time already gone, I decided I'd spill it all when the instructor breezily asked me "How's it going?" He listened, watched, and then made a suggestion--and by god it worked.

Head in water, exhale through nose, head out of water tilted to the side, inhale quickly, don't worry if feet go down--over and over again up until the last minute, which is when I finally choked on a bit of pool water--perhaps a tablespoon as opposed to the quarter-cup I ingested the week before.

When I left, I know I swaggered just a little. It was still a bad day and by the time I got home, all I wanted to do was take a nap. But at the bottom of the misery that engulfed me was a tiny sparkle of happiness. Painfully and awkwardly and at my own glacial pace, I'm learning how to swim.

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