you will think that this is no big deal, until I tell you that the last time I owned a bathing suit was 1997, when I went to Disney World with my friends after I graduated from high school. I still do not own a suit, and went floating in the pool wearing a skirt, my bra, underwear and a tank top. It did not matter, because it felt heavenly.
I never really learned how to swim: When my mom signed me up for lessons at the Y (at my insistence), I was ten years old, a slightly chubby brainiac that frequently still wore my hair in pigtails, played with School with her sisters and was completely useless without my glasses. Of course, the first thing they did was tell us to change, and to stow our personal gear - "This means glasses too!" - in the lockers. My best friend was also taking the class with me, and was kind enough to lead me out of the locker room and into the shallow end of the pool. To say that my vision without my glasses is hazy is a major understatement. I can see shapes - people sized blobs of mushed together colors, fuzzy colors with no defined edges. I could see my friend's face, if she was the one bobbing in the water next to me, but I couldn't have picked her out of the line of young bodies that floated around. We had our own secret game of Marco Polo going on, even before the lessons started.
And what an illuminating and educational lesson it was: A large man - the high school swim coach - came out of the locker room and sat in a lifeguard's chair. Then he threw a bunch of plastic rings into the pool and told us to go get them. "Dive if you want to, tiptoe over if you don't, but go down there and get them." End of lesson. I spent the entire time trying to see a darker blue blob at the bottom of the moving lighter blue blob, failing over and over again to retrieve my ring because A) it was at the bottom and I was at the top not knowing how to get to the bottom without drowning and B)the blob that I thought was a ring was in fact paint on the bottom of the pool, so I just wasted all my breath to get down there for nothing. For one hour every Friday for six weeks, my friend tried to drag me around to the location of a ring, I would claw my way down to get it, bob back up and then we'd hold on to the edge of the pool for dear life, waiting for the class to be over so we could go home. Between that and my uncle throwing me into a pond and telling me I'd pick it up once I was in the water, I figured I'd never be able to swim.
Eventually though, I put together the basics on my own - arms and legs both need to be moving, try rotating your head so you can breathe every now and then - but swimming will never be my forte.
But yesterday I waited until the sun went away and the shade covered the yard, after the kids had finished all of their major splashing and the adults had had their pool time as well. Then I slipped into the middle of my sister-in-law's pool, (to the shock of my brother in particular) laid on my back and floated. It was the most peaceful I've felt in a very long time, and I was reminded that I used to like the water (initial swimming experiences excluded). It's so quiet and calming, and honestly, my body feels so different in the water.
The weightlessness is part of it, sure: it's easier to move all the stiff and sore parts of me - they feel more connected to each other and less likely to rebel: It's almost as if I've got my dancer's body back - one that responds to the moves I want it to make automatically and with little protest. I'm still in pain, but it's just like someone turned it down a notch, and if I could've stayed in that water all day - every day - I would've.
I splashed around a little with Lil Girl (who is a fish), and floated as long as I could, but even though the pain had dimmed a bit, other issues were still making themselves known. I got a rash from either the chlorine or the sun, just one big patch of it on my thigh, who knows why (it's itchy as all get out today). And my pulse was hammering away the way it does when I try to stand up - being upright, even in water makes all the lovely blood pumping away slow down and my heart tries to speed it back up, and the ultimate conclusion to all that is that I pass out, which I really didn't want to do in the pool, so my peace was short lived. And the getting out reminded me of why it's been so long since I've been in a pool. Because all of that freedom and flowing stops as soon as I put my butt on the steps and try to scootch out... I'd rather live in the water forever than try to do that again.
Add in an unexpected breathing issue that popped up - Lil Girl kept making me go all the way under so she could show me her flips and wave and whatever. I forgot that I can't hold my breath very long anymore. (Hello: Asthma!) I had to use my inhaler twice yesterday, and today my lungs are wheezing and my chest feels like I got kicked by a mule. "Call the doctor" my mom suggested. "And say what," was my reply: "I held my breath too long and now I'm hurting?" Even I can't tell them that. It'll go away eventually, but it's another harsh reminder that everything I do has a price.
So it had it's drawbacks, but I'm not sure I wouldn't do it again. It was worth seeing Lil Girl with her goggles on and a mile wide smile. To float on my back and feel dainty and delicate and like nothing in the world could be heavy. To look up at the clouds and remember that the world is going to keep turning whether I'm participating or not. It was nice to participate, and since I have all week to recuperate, I'll deal with the consequences.
In the meantime, want to see a fish?