This was my favorite view in my favorite place: Rounding the corner from the locker room and seeing the pool, the surface still as if a piece of plexiglass were pressed over the top. Sometimes when I’d round that corner, there were ripples or more boisterous waves in the pool and that was still okay. It just meant that someone else was in the pool, maybe two, three or more. In my months of going, I never saw more than four others there, which was a good thing because though the sign on the wall stated that up to 50 people could be accommodated, it seemed crowded in that pool with just five of us.
Sometimes ripples in the water meant that someone had just gotten out, which was the second best way to find it. Honestly, though, I didn’t mind all that much if other people were in the pool; if there were other people, they were usually senior women in novelty swimming caps who knew each other and they often stood in the water talking, like they were socializing with coffee over a backyard fence. Others in the pool were more industrious, gripping the edges with their fingers, practicing an array of kicks. I didn’t mind other people being there because while I didn’t want to have an actual conversation, I have always loved to eavesdrop. Still, seeing the water’s surface perfectly flat and undisturbed was balm for my spirit.
This was my favorite place the year my life fell apart.
This pool is next to a much larger lap pool, where the serious swimmers got in their exercise. The pool I went to was where classes were taught: aqua aerobics, private swim lessons for adults, that sort of thing. When I was going to this pool, there were usually only a few scheduled things a day; the rest of the time, it was just an open space for people like me.
In those few months of using the pool, I realized that the temperature of water is really a deal-maker or -breaker for me. One of the best things about this pool, called the exercise pool — it is still there but it is no longer open to me — is that the gym keeps it at a comfortable temperature, nice and warm. Most pool water is way too cold for my taste. All of my life, I have been told that I would acclimate to the bracing cold water of most pools but that has never seemed to happen for me. It’s not refreshing, just numbingly cold, and all I can do is shiver in place and want to die…