Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life on my own #6: Swimming solo

The city’s outdoor pool closed for the season after this weekend. It was only open from the beginning of June until now, mid-August, which seems like such a short time when I consider how much I paid for the season pass. Sigh.

You see, my family used to get a season pass every summer and I and my siblings would drive out as often as possible to find respite from the summer heat. We didn’t have air-conditioning, and my sister’s favorite active recreation is swimming, so we’d go out almost every day as long as the temperature didn’t dip too low and my dad could give us a lift.

When I got my license I’d take us out to the pool just about four or five times a week, and even if I didn’t get in (I have a low tolerance for chilliness) my brother and sister would. They’d spend an hour or two chasing each other around in the deep end, or fishing for misplaced pennies at the bottom of the pool, and still would whine just a little when I told them it was time to head home.

In short, the pool’s fun. So I wasted no time buying my season pass this year. Unfortunately, with my sis in college and my parents working crazy hours, they couldn’t have made a season pass worthwhile this year, so I was the only one to get a pass.

Consequently, I was also the only one of my family to go to the pool more than three times. If it was a hot day, I’d get out of the office as quick as I could—it helped if I had an evening meeting to cover—and pedal home to pull a quick-change act and emerge in bathing suit and shorts before biking over to the pool.

Lock the bike to the racks, hand in the season pass to the window attendant, shed the shorts and take a dip—all by myself. Such a big girl, going to the pool by myself, surrounded by a lot of teeny-boppers and their incomprehensible shenanigans.

If you’ve never gone to a pool by yourself, it’s an interesting experience. What’s there to do in an outdoor pool if you don’t have somebody to toss a ball to or chase around the pool mushroom? Consider how many activities require a partner, even something as simple as gently treading water while shooting the breeze.

It’s not like you can even have your iPod earbuds implanted into your ears either. You’re really all, by, yourself.

Me, I just swam up and down the deep end, dodging children when I could, and alternating pitiful imitations of swimming strokes at whim. Sometimes I’d pretend I was doing a back stroke, sometimes a modified front stroke, and once in a while a simple old doggy paddle. Or I’d float on my back and close my eyes, hoping no little waves would clog my nose.

Back stroke. Front stroke. Doggy paddle. Float. Repeat.

That only lasts half an hour, maybe forty-five minutes, before I start getting a little chilled and a little bored. Everyone else is about twelve years old and absorbed in whatever middle-school drama is playing itself out at the pool, so I’m basically in my own little Atlantis at the pool, a world frequently disturbed, but never entered, by the children surrounding it.

I did get to take my sister to the pool three times, and we brought my brother along two of those times. I’m grateful I did get to have some game time in the pool with other people (and I’m glad my sis talked me into going off the diving board several times last Saturday).  But I don’t regret the times I went solo.

It was a little out of my comfort zone, and a little awkward at first, but I got used to it and learned to amuse myself mentally as I traversed the deep end to and fro.

And sometimes, the humidity is just too bad to be able to do anything other than swim, accompanied or not!

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