Saturday, December 1, 2012

swimming at your own risk

I swim. This is how I will, eventually, get ripped. This is how I get to that place so deep in my lungs that feels so good. It is how I get to that quiet space in my head. Lap after lap slowly but surely, I can climb out of my silly busy thoughts. And simply, breathe and count those laps, each one, getting me closer to being ripped. This is one way I fight the gravitational and genetic pull of my triceps into the beautiful wings that they will, eventually become, as they do for every woman in my family. But most importantly, I swim because it is my window into worlds I didn't know existed in this hilly city I call home.

I do not swim at a fancy gym. I frequent the public pools in SF. We are a motley crew, and we let it all hang out in our swimming suits. Young and old, fat and hairy and strangely not hairy....
I've had to let go of my inhibitions and let perfect strangers see the graceful dance of my kachunga thighs as I kick in the water. (kachunga thighs: the name my mother gave to our matching lovely thighs because they make the sound "kaCHUNga" when you giggle them). There is something so graceful about people in the water, even the most ungraceful of us...even the people who have no clue how to swim the most basic freestyle, above the water you hear gasping and can see limbs flapping and flopping, but underwater, in the silence, they are slowly but surely dancing towards the wall.

There are so many characters to meet at the pool:
Breaststroke man: he only swims breaststroke. lap after lap. so very fast. olympic medal winning fast.

Fast guy: he swims on a crazy mission. desperately missing his college swim team so much "harvard" is still emblazened across his speedoed butt.

Nips: woman with the biggest nipples I've ever seen, I know this because she proudly parades them around the locker room every chance she gets. She'll walk around fully clothed, shoes and all, before she covers them up.

The diver: towards the end of his workout, the last few laps, when he reaches the deep end, 5 feet before the wall he always dives deep and does flips.

The PDA couple: they straddle each other at the wall. please, for the love of baby jesus, stop!

I wonder what I am to the others in the pool? Green cap shorty: swims as if she has unresolved issues from childhood swim team. she really thinks she should be in the fast lane! Ha!

I always love the pool. But sometimes you stop noticing the little things, Nips becomes just another person to avoid eye contact with in the shower, you stop looking to see if The Diver does his thing. Not this time of year, late fall, nope, my neighborhood pool closes! Gasp! The good thing is that I no longer have to walk quickly past one of the most dangerous projects in the city. The bad thing is that I have to find another place to swim.

This is not a simple task of arriving at another pool and diving in. These pools are not open regular hours. Every pool has different hours everyday and the schedules change every three months. This makes scheduling my three swims a week a herculean event, even before I get in the pool. How many times have I arrived at the pool, taking an awkward lunch at 2:30 only to find it is not lap swim time, oh no it is all about "senior exercise"  or sorry, it's  "Azure" time (which, apparently stands for "activities for childeren/teens on the Autism Spectrum.") Now I love that they have these classes. Praise be to SF Park and Rec Aquatics. But please, can I just get my fix??

a beautiful but very, very rare scene. an empty public pool in SF.

1 comment:

shilpa said...

Happy New Year, Ashley! Hope you are doing well!
Oh your words are pulling me out of the depths of winter here in Toronto and pushing me to swim to feel free from coats, scarfs, boots, hats and mitts.