Wednesday, March 27, 2013


 It’s quiet when I walk into the pool room, the humidity of the indoor space immediately loosening my muscles. Aside from the quiet slap slap slap of the water against the tiles as other lap swimmers keep their pace, it’s a silence I don’t often experience. I relax almost on contact.

The water is warmer than usual today, and I climb into the pool, immersing myself without hesitation. The prep to get to this moment is great – not only do I have to find and don my bathing suit, I have to remember to pack towels, shampoo, a change of clothes, a plastic baggie for my wet things afterwards. This brand of organization and forethought is not my forte – and yet I have done it. I made it. I sink into the water and enjoy the small accomplishment.

I’m not here to move mountains or break records. Despite my love for water I am not a naturally strong swimmer, but in this one environment, submerged in this pool, I am weightless. The freedom is enough to bring tears to my eyes. This week alone I have berated myself a million times for weighing too much, I have criticized, scolded and admonished myself. But here in the pool I can let those thoughts float away.

There is comfort, for me, not just in the water itself but in the monotony. Unquestionably, this is a boring workout. Swim a lap, swim another lap. Swim another lap, swim another lap. Repeat, repeat. And again.

The scenery doesn’t change, and the strokes only vary slightly since my body refuses to deviate from its two favorite styles of swim. There is nothing to watch on TV, nothing to listen to, nothing to see.

But it’s predictable. I know I will reach the other side, I know that I will hit my stride seconds before doing so, launching me back to square one every single time to try to find that rhythm once again before bumping into the tiles.

I know that nobody will bother me, my kids will not interrupt me, there is no phone, no email, no housework. 

I will not hear the familiar ping of a text reaching me from someone needing an answer, demanding a response, anticipating a reply. I am free, also, from expectation.

I know that I will succeed in swimming as long as I want, until I have run all of my problems over in my head from A to Z and maybe even processed some new ideas for how to handle them. I know that my body will outlast my mind.

The pool is a private place, a respite – there is no chatting, no comparing heart rates, no one watching. It’s easy to lose yourself in the monotony, and I cherish this small fact.

 When I am done my laps, inevitably I become a child again for a lap or two. Swimming like a mermaid, somersaulting underwater. Floating on my back with my eyes closed, surfing on a kickboard until it angles rapidly out of the water. Having a tea party and rising to the surface, snorting in secret laughter.

The water makes it easy to become lost, and easier to find your way back. For 30 minutes on a random Thursday afternoon, I can be completely at peace.

The underwater world awaits, and beckons me with its lullaby. I will always answer the call.

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