Pool

So, we’ll get back to cooking shortly after this delay caused by life doing what it does in the little ways that distract me.

But here’s the thing from today.

There’s a pool at my apartment complex. It was something like 90 degrees today. I got it into my head that maybe I would go swimming.

This is for a few reasons. For one, I wanted to move a little, and I can’t pound on treadmills every day (as I did yesterday), because my knees have a hard life. I’d like them to get an easier one soon, but they still have a hard one. Pools are good for knees - or so I’ve heard.

For another, it was 90 degrees.

For a third, I will never get my life to where I’m trying to get it if I don’t continue, day by day, the process of getting over myself.

Here’s what I mean: I frequently tell people I don’t like swimming: don’t like the beach, don’t like the pool, don’t like it. It’s true that part of this is because pools and beaches are often outside, and I am pale and fry like an egg on the sun.

But let us not be silly: it is also because beaches and pools and getting wet mean people looking at you wearing less than I ever, ever wear in public. (Ever.) I never learned whether I liked swimming, because I never didn’t hate that, even as a little kid.

So thinking about going to the pool at my own building involves this series of thoughts: (1) I have to find a swimsuit. (I actually already have a couple from a family trip a couple years ago.) (2) I have to walk through the halls. (3) I have to be on the elevator. (4) I have to walk through the lobby. (5) I have to walk out to the pool. (6) I have to get into the water. (7) I have to get out of the water, which usually looks ungraceful to me even when normal people do it.

I caught myself having this thought: “I’m just trying to be … considerate.” This meant, “I am trying not to exist in front of people if they’d rather I didn’t.”

Soooooo yes, had to do it then. Once you catch that thought rattling around in your mind, it’s like knowing you have mice. You can’t quite rest until it’s handled.

So at the appointed time shortly after the pool opened, I put the suit on, I put a terry robe over it, I doused myself with sunscreen while wondering if I’d be able to stay long enough to need it, and I went down there.

There was nobody at the pool but the lifeguard, who apologetically said I’d have to wait maybe a half-hour while she cleaned the pool after a storm last night. Oh, I told her, of course. Take your time.

It was THE PERFECT EXCUSE. Go back upstairs, oh well, try another day. Give up! But I did *not*. Instead, I came upstairs, got more sunscreen and my sunglasses, went down there and LAY IN A POOL CHAIR IN THE SUN IN MY SUIT AND SHADES FOR A HALF-HOUR. (Don’t worry - I basted myself with SPF 50 and haven’t a trace of pink.)

While I was sitting there, actually listening to my current audiobook (THE MARTIAN, riveting) and watching clouds cover and uncover the sun, I suddenly realized the pool faces, as you’d imagine, an entire side of the building with maybe a hundred apartments that have a view of it. And it was just me lying beside it and the lifeguard cleaning. This was a tiny bit unnerving.

And then a dude came out onto one of the high balconies, and it really felt like he stared straight down at me. He was then joined by another dude. Then another dude. I chanted to myself, “Who cares even if they are, who cares, who cares.” I closed my eyes, listened to the story, and waited. The sun was hot, and sprawling in it was the strangest, most decadent feeling.

And when the lifeguard was done, I eased my way into the water, and let me tell you, it was so, so, so worth it.