Friday, January 09, 2009

Sink or swim

Sink or swim
I enjoy the Y. I take mostly yoga classes there, and do my own cardio on the elliptical. My oldest and I are workout buddies. Recently, I decided to try the water aerobics class. I used to teach, and I used to take, but both have been a while. A long lifetime ago while.

I brought along daughter #3 who was home from college for the holidays, and we entered the pool area. The new pool, how exciting!!!! Two lanes were designated for the class, and the rest were for swim team practice. There was a fan running, somewhere around us. The sound surrounded the joint. The noise was deafening, and dragged along a huge echo to boot. Between the fan, the swim team speed splashing, and the supportive SCreaMMMMSSS and whistles from the team coaches, I felt like I had walked into a whole house fan that was running on high.

My thinking changed when we got into the water. Add to the noise, the waves rippling from the swimmers. I began to believe I was trapped inside a food processor. It was a challenge to stand upright; being still was not an option.

There were maybe 8 people giving the class a shot along with us. Some were older than I was , and a few were younger. Everyone had on a swimming suit of one sort or another.

A woman entered the pool area wearing tennis shoes, a long fitness spandex top over a jog bra with nylon shorts. She had her goggles resting atop her frantic hair.I wondered, if , maybe she was lost or in the wrong place, or time. Or, maybe she was the mother of teenagers.
Her rubber soles squeaked our way with intention and a sinking feeling bubbled up inside me. Having a sinking feeling when you are in a pool is not a good thing. The mystery spandex woman stood on the side of the pool and looked us over.

She welcomed us and introduced herself to us. I think. She might have been screaming obscenities or singing for all I could tell. Between the noise and the echo it was really hard to understand and impossible to hear anything that might resemble an entry in Webster’s best coming out of her mouth. She looked happy enough to be there, so I'm assuming the best.

She suddenly started marching in place and mouthing something that looked like “EEEE IIII”
Then, she lifted her knees higher and cranked up the speed.

If you have ever been in a pool of water, you may have noticed that the density is a bit different than standing in air. Life moves at a different pace in liquid than it does in an outside air environment. Things. Move. slowwwwer. Moving through water is a lot like living with depression except you can actually point to the reason why life feels like mud. Depression tends to hide its reason under the cranial cap. Real, but hard to identify sometimes.

So, what might happen if an instructor is giving directions on what to do, and the instructor is standing outside the pool barking out hand- over -mouth sounding directions and yet, you are IN the water, well, what might happen? YOU MIGHT DROWN is what might happen.

Guessing what she was saying and trying to follow was a dangerous task. I think I can safely say that I understand what it feels like to be in the middle of a tsunami- the undercurrent part of it. Fortunately, I, being built like a buoy, float in those kinds of situations. I’m just lucky that way.

The class must have looked like fish out of water, because our instructor stopped marching and put her hands on her hips and pursed her lips. Then she spoke into the pool echo full force. She added a few decibles to her volume as if louder is better when you are in a cave.

“BAAAAAAA NNNNNN FFFFFFUUUUUHHHHHHH, EEEEEIIIIIIIII, EEEEE IIIIII!!!!” Then she drew a circle in the air at us. At us, no kidding. I felt it splash my freckles and it made me blink. When I blinked, I lost my balance and buoyed around causing the people around me to buoy around too and, well, it wasn’t pretty.

We attempted to move in a circle and I noticed that where we had started with 8, we were now down to 6. Two were clinging to the deepest part of the ocean- uh, pool, and they seemed to be pretty happy about it. One lifted up an arm and waved at me. I kept trying to circle. As I remember this, I am becoming sea sick again.

I noticed that when our circle splashed close to the deep end, one or two students would leave the whirlpool and break out, dog paddling to the deep end. Escape was the mission of the day. I wanted out, too but I was sorely lacking in maneuverability. I didn't think I could break the circle and escape safely.

She changed directions from her perch on land,and started moving her arms like a ballerina, both arms reaching to the right, legs leaping alongside. I tried to follow but all I could think about was Swan Lake. I imagined myself in a tutu and added a few feathers to my head while I aqua-leaped across the pool. I closed my eyes and felt the toe shoes’ ribbons wrapping theirselves around my ankles and calves. I was a water ballerina, I was. Then, I was-glug- glug under. The fantasy fell apart and chlorine cleared my thinking and my sinuses.

By the end of class, my loving daughter and I were the only survivors. The rest of the class was enjoying the show down at the Deep End Bar and Grill.

We left, and I got dressed in the sauna, which is my favorite thing to do in the winter at the Y. When I came out, the instructor was standing outside the door changing her own clothes.

Spandex is such an interesting material. It stretches, and yet, when wet, it doesn’t like to move. She fought between her skin trying to escape the hold of the fabric and the fabric refusing to release the damp skin. I’m sorry, I had to turn away. I couldn’t bear the sight. (Only moments ago, I was experiencing that same tug of war with my swimsuit, but the sauna heat was on my team and we won the battle of the suit removal pretty quickly. )

When I shifted my focus and started looking for the nearest exit, she exclaimed, “You know why I teach Water Aerobics?”

I hesitated, still looking away, and I tried to remember whether or not I had indeed inquired or even thought about such a thing. I know I talk to myself out loud but I was pretty certain I had not voiced any words, much less interest in the topic of how in the world she ended up teaching or screaming water aerobics. But, no matter. She told me a tale that in simple terms said she had a passion for it. I support reaching for and pursuing our passions. I also wasn’t planning on repeating the experience of participating in what that looks like, either. Not for a while, anyway.

A few days later, I happened upon this instructor in the aeriated world. She asked me if the girl that had come to her class with me was my daughter and when I said yes, she said she could just eat her up. Being 22, I don’t think #3 would really appreciate that idea even though I realize it was well intended.

It was an adventure of sorts. It is encouraging to see someone pursue their interests. All the same, I think I’ll stay on land for a bit. You know what they say- different strokes.........:-)


Anonymous said...

That really didn't inspire me to become a member of the water aerobics class- but I guess you were not trying to recruit anyone. Loonygin

Belle said...

This is best. post. ever. AND: even better when heard read aloud!!! xxoo

Anonymous said...

Since I can't swim, I am not about to tackle such a thing, but enjoyed your encounters!! It gave me a big laugh as most all of your blogs do. Thanks, Your vol. and flower and birds friend.