Thursday, August 13, 2015

One of Those Days.....


You ever had one of those days where everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is thwarted in some strange way? And then, by the time you’re through the first half of the day, you think, okay, that was 6 things that went wrong. That must be it, right? But then 6 more things go wrong and you start to think, is it me? Am I inviting the wrongness to my sphere? Or is it the universe trying to tell me something?

Like go back to bed?

Well…yes, I’m sure you’ve all had such days, and while it’s happening, it’s surreal and upsetting. Yet……

It’s good to know there’s a reason for it, isn’t it?

“Hello, Carol,” Sandy’s getting ready to head to Utopia; I’ve only just arrived, an hour later than usual, slinging my too heavy gym bag on the bench and sighing too loudly.

“Hi, Sandy,” I manage. It’s hard to answer and pretend like everything is all right. So I don’t try.
“How you doing today?” Sandy asks.
“Don’t even ask,” I try for levity.
“One of those days?” she nods, sympathetic.
“Oh, yes! You know when everything goes wrong?”

“I do indeed,” she slams her locker shut, gathers up her towel.

And then in spite of my intention not to pour it all out at her, I start in with the most recent list of obstacles.

“The off-ramp to get here was closed for who knows what reason. I’ve been living here in Oakland for over 30 years and I’ve never seen that off-ramp closed! And then I got lost cuz there were no detour signs, and I got turned around on San Pablo and then I couldn’t find a parking place and then……”
I stop, catching my breath, fighting back the tears.

Sandy nods, then proclaims: “There’s the Perseid meteor shower happening right now. That’s what the problem is.”
I crack up. Leave it to Sandy to make me laugh in spite of my bad mood overwhelm. “Of course!” I grin. “That explains everything. Cuz you know, it’s been a series of bad things all day long.”

“Well, let’s hope for a Miracle and you get a lane to yourself.”

This would be a miracle, especially considering the hellish circle swimming mayhem that has dominated the pool lately at the downtown Oakland YMCA.
“I won’t hold my breath,” I joke. “But I just want to get in the water at this point, you know? It’ll help.”
“Yes, it will,” she agrees as she heads off to Utopia.



And it did. The Miracle almost materialized.

Initially upon entering the pool arena, it was the usual mayhem. Kids screaming in the Family Lane. Three swimmers circle swimming in the remaining lanes. The side of the pool where the aqua folks had been was still open, but the Aquas had left except for the enormous computer programmer guy trying to pick up on Beauteous Bun Head woman.

And then there was frantic albino guy at the far end or the pool flailing his arms about strangely.
Okay, so, I just got in and swam anyway. After the day I’d had, this was nothing.

Yet….miracle of miracles, the kids and families got out. The lifeguards put in all the lanes. I shared a lane with serious sparkly earring woman swimmer. It was smooth and soothing and yes, the day’s hellishness began to melt away.


Later, as we’re getting dressed before the final last call of 10 pm, Sandy told us about the woman on the Bay Bridge who’d jumped over the side to escape arrest after crashing a stolen car from LA and this is why 80 was backed up on my way to work that morning.Evidently, she'd been picked up later, soaking wet in nothing but bare feet and a little black dress, by an unsuspecting truck driver.
“How did she survive?” I asked in astonishment.
“She was very well insulated, I’m sure…..and high as a kite,” Sandy explained.
DL’s eyes widened.
“Well,” I nodded, “at least I wasn’t her!”
Laughing, Sandy stuffed her stuff in her gym bag. DL stared into space for several seconds and then grinned, “I just got what you said….” she murmured. “It took a few moments to process.”

And it does take time to process. And I was right. At least I wasn’t this poor woman jumping over the Bay Bridge or the poor man who was shot by the Oakland police (this is probably why the 27th street off-ramp was closed) or the other myriad REALLY bad things that can happen in a day driving around the Bay Area or trying to work your work.

And when I think about it, everything that happened on this Wrongsday (DL’s name for this Wednesday) did turn out okay. I did get to work. I did finally help students with their writing. I did get my boss to fill out my time card. I did find a parking place. I did get to the YMCA. DL did get me to stop crying and start laughing: (“Sit down….sit down for a minute….let’s just watch this funny man here on the treadmill doing strange things with his head.”)
…..And I did make it back home.

But those meteors! Damn! Good thing they only come around once a year. Cuz frankly, I couldn’t take another day like this for a long long time!

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Daddy's Swim Lessons


“Are you giving her lessons?” He gazes up at me blankly as I prepare to enter the lane.
“No…no….she is my daughter….”

The daughter grins at me from the two lanes over. Actually, she’s in the Mayhem Family swim section, the pandemonium flailing about her as she dives, her aqua fins flapping.

I’m hoping that Non Lesson Giver Dad (who had been demonstrating the freestyle stroke walking style) would get out of the lane and let me swim. But evidently this was not to be. I sigh inwardly. Again, circle swimming, though the pool has the appearance of less mayhem than the week before. Its surface is smooth with less tidal wave action since most of the swimmers seem to be lolling about at the walls.
Still, there are two swimmers in every lane, hence circle swimming again.

I inch into the water and take off down the lane, feeling immediately freerer as I glide. What was it about swimming? Granted my back is still bugging me, so the water’s buoyancy feels delicious. But as I’ve written about endlessly, swimming is my heaven. Some have a heaven with angels and trumpets. Some have a heaven in nature’s canyons. Some have a heaven in a bowl of Hagen Dazs.

Me? My heaven is being the water. And granted it wasn’t exactly angelic tonight with the threat of more circle swimming hell looming, but even with this possibility, I am feeling better than I had all day.

Non-swim lesson dad abandons my lane. Heads over to his daughter for closer stroke instruction. Yellow snorkel nose man hops in. Damn! I thought maybe I was gonna catch a break and be spared the starting and stopping of circle swimming.

Yet, Yellow Snorkel man can swim and so he pays attention. Plus we’re about the same speed which helps (unlike Backward Butterball who was nowhere in sight, thank goodness!).

Where do people come from and where do the go? Whenever I swim, there are the usual suspects---the same ones every Wednesday night from 8:30 to 9:30, but then there are those I see once and then never again. And then there are those who I saw for years and then they disappear.

Like what happened to Crashing Bongo Drum Man? Or Sideways Toe Nail Man? Or Foggy Mask Too Skinny Woman?
Did they find another pool? Are they at another Y? Or did they find another version of heaven that fit into their schedule better?

Or are they just in heaven?

I glance over at the father and daughter and grow a little misty behind my mask. I miss my father. We had such fun in the pool. Playing Mr. Banana Buddy and Dead Bug in the blistering summers of Hacienda Heights.

“Daddy!” Blue Fin girl cries out, splashing and grinning, swimming away from him. He laughs, takes off after her, no lessons on strokes now.

And I smile. Okay, sure it’s pandemonium and summer at the Oakland YMCA. But it’s also a reminder of what the pool can do.

Bring fathers and daughter together in a way that is full of fun, life and splash..... And for this, tonight, I’m thankful that this little slice of ‘heaven’ is swimming next to me.