I got back from visiting my parents over the winter holidays, and felt an inexplicable restlessness – the best way I can describe it is some feeling, deep in my bones, to just move my body. And walking to the bathroom or kitchen from my bedroom in my tiny apartment didn’t help. So I quickly plugged into Google, “pools near me”.
Don’t get me wrong, I am aware that it was the middle of a frigid Vermont winter when I chose to take the dive. However, I’ve been described as a ‘water bug’ since I could sit in a floaty tube while still wearing swim diapers. So, when I realized I wanted – needed – to move my body and get myself out of the funk of seasonal depression, I wanted a pool.
The Upper Valley Aquatic Center was the first place to pop up in my search results, and the first place I called. I scheduled myself for a lap lane bright and early the next morning at 7:15am.
Pulling myself out of bed that morning should have been considered a workout of the mental kind, a true test of my strength. I was used to rising at 9:45am at the earliest…but reader, I did it! I dragged myself into my car right on schedule and drove my way to UVAC. The moment I walked in, I noticed how warm and welcoming it all felt. Not just the familiar scent of chlorine wafting through my nose, or the gentle chatter of the morning staff and guests – something about the energy made me feel irrefutably good, positive, and embraced.
I had no idea what I was doing, but the front desk staff made sure to direct me right where I needed…and before I knew it, I was plunging into the water. I could barely get through 25 meters of freestyle before being out of breath. I got more water up my nose than I care to admit, and if I’m honest, completely forgot how to do flip turns. Of course, I immediately scheduled another lap lane for the next day.
It was a no-brainer to me. Sure, I didn’t know anybody here, and sure I was still lost when walking back to the locker rooms, I was more floundering fish than lithe dolphin in the water…but regardless, that feeling from before was sustained the entire time: I was comfortable, I was welcome.
When I returned the following day, the front desk staff recognized me and we exchanged smiles. I chose the same locker I had gotten the previous day. It was the perfect size for my duffel bag, and as I traversed through the path from the locker rooms to the big pool, I smiled. I slowed my walk, and looked around, and I saw the types of people I knew I was going to get to surround myself with; the people who helped me know that I was going to keep coming back.
The older folks wanting to keep their limbs moving…the kids who were getting in some laps before school started…the swim team members charging through intense laps…the lifeguards watching carefully over everyone…and then the folks like me, just there to move their bodies.
I am so amazed with the way that UVAC has begun to play a role in my life. It’s not just about fighting off seasonal depression or losing weight – it’s about the chance to move my body and exist in a space with other people, who are also moving their body. People surrounded by the same desire to feel something, together, at the same time.
I can’t wait for the months to come.
By OK Stevens
See their website here: www.theokstevens.com