It was a glorious day last month when Ryan and I made our final payment on both the car loan and my small business loan. From that moment on, we've been car payment free, from now until all three of our cars explode. Until then, we will never pay money on a car again.
The next day, I marched down to our local rec center, talked to the woman about pricing and signed up right there and then for a 6 month membership for Ryan and I. Our rec center isn't the desirable rec center in our town. It's falling apart and the only people who go there are seniors. And us. I couldn't sign up fast enough.
Why? Because I want to SWIM.
I've always loved swimming. When I was a child, I wanted to be at the pool, every day without ceasing, much to the boredom and eyerolling of my friends and my sister. I felt at home in the water, and could spend hours and hours pretending I was a mermaid, or a gymnast, or a mythical sea creature that lived in a magical lagoon.
In middle school, I joined the swim team at a local rec center, not unlike the one I belong to now. It turns out...I was a pretty good little swimmer. I went to the state championships for backstroke. I came in 4th. I have a ribbon somewhere. I loved swim team. It felt right to be a part of it, and I treasured every little piece of the routine - from kneeling on the diving block to eating pasta with butter for breakfast on the mornings we had meets. The rush of flinging yourself into the pool to the sound of a gun shot was like nothing I'd ever felt.
Then I got to high school, a big, scary, terrible high school where I was constantly made to feel like I wasn't good enough - at anything. And even though I was beautiful in high school, I worried about being in front of my peers in a bathing suit. So I never tried out for swim team. I regretted it. I hated seeing the swim team girls come out of the locker room, happy and wet and smelling of chlorine. My jealously of them was overwhelming, but also my need to tell them that I belonged with them - they just didn't know it. (I felt the same way when a group of popular kids at my first college performed a Newsies routine for the "O" show. I wanted to hate them all, but at the same time tell them how much I loved Newsies and that I loved it SO MUCH MORE than they did and how I belonged with them. I'm weird, I know it.).
Sadly, because of this insecurity, swimming became something that I loved to do for fun, rather than a part of my daily life. To be clear, I love any form of swimming: lounging on a raft drinking a Mike's lemonade, being drowned repeatedly at Waterworld, just hanging out in a hotel pool catching rays...but nothing has felt as good as being on the swim team did.
Until now. I'm happy to say that I am swimming again. DAILY. Yes, that's right, 5 to 6 times a week I have been swimming for 35 minutes at my local pool in the early morning. Ryan joins me. We decided that we wanted to do something together, something for our health, and this was the thing that I knew I would LOVE to do, day in and day out.
And I do. Oh, how I love it. I love pulling on my swimsuit at 6 in the morning. I am now the proud owner of a sleek Speedo "Conservative" suit, after my fashion suit didn't quite work out, in fact it was downright unladylike after a few laps. Ryan had the same problem with his boardshorts and so now he rocks the jammers after telling me under no circumstances would be hear a Speedo. There's a perfect and silent 2 minute drive to the pool because I'm still half asleep and Ryan hasn't had his coffee yet and that can only end badly.
I love the minute I step out into the pool area and smell that telltale pool smell. Chroline. Suits. Damp air. It's magic. Ryan and I find out respective lanes and then it's just time to swim. We don't talk, we just..swim. It's me and the water, so pure, so connected. It feels so right, like a piece of myself that was missing has returned. I ponder just about everything when I'm swimming - relationships, finances, the book, my career, adoption....I've even said my prayers while I'm swimming (in my head, else floundering would result.) There is a peace to be found as I kick and pull through the water. There is no one else. Just me and the glimmering bottom of the pool. I can't be reached on a cell phone. No one can talk to me. It's just me and the pool.
(And the two gossipy lifeguards that I'm sure are talking about me, always)
It has already changed me. Not just the parts of my body that are slowly but surely tightening. I'm calmer. More focused. I get so much done by 10:30 in the morning, it's ridiculous. I feel like I get less stressed over things, and Ryan said he has noticed a change in my demeanor as well. When I don't go (like on the weekends), I hate it. I find myself fantasizing about the pool in my free time. I'm desperate for it, for that half hour of pure indulgence.
When I swim, I feel like this:
But I'm sure I look like this:
But I'm sure I don't care. Like this.
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