My house has become my enemy. It is hopelessly messy. Before Mom's death I had to admit that this condition was directly related to laziness on my part. After Mom's death I can comfortably say my grief is interfering with my ability to do simple chores but I know that it is actually laziness once again.
We are going to Mud Lake (couldn't they have come up with a prettier name?) with a friend to hear the bluegrass festival. I have already informed Dave that Tom cannot enter the house due to its sloppy condition. He thinks I'm kidding, but I'm not . . .
My mother always said that I was happiest in the water. As a young person I rode my bike daily to the pool. After swimming I would buy a nickel bag of popcorn and a nickel vanilla cone and dip said cone in the popcorn. On weekends I and my cousins and siblings splashed delightedly in the lake where my grandmother had her sons build a cottage for all the grandchildren. I lived on fried baloney sandwiches and peanut butter rice krispie bars and my uncle's burnt popcorn around the campfire at night. We would explore the banks of Catfish Creek rambling through the countryside, its mouth the Mississippi and collect crawdads, Indian beads and rocks of various color and texture. We dutifully glued them onto to poster board and wrote their names below as we scoured our rock books. Unequivocally, the best times of my life.
To this day I look forward to long hot showers with water streaming down me and the privacy of the shower stall like my little cocoon. If I am bathing I refill the tub several times with hot water when I begin to chill. I am a water person. I do not sit sunning myself next to any body of water. I am in the water.
Yesterday was dark and dangerous following storms that resulted in severe flooding to all the little towns in Iowa situated along its mighty rivers, the Mississippi and the Maquoketa. I love all the Indian names but they sometimes leave my tongue twisted.
I decided to give the pool a chance banking on that most people would be afraid to be around any form of water even a contained pool. Only 31 of us dared to dip on this cloudy and dreary day. There were ribbons of light running through the gray clouds and only a few splatters of water on the surface. Heavenly with just myself in the laps lane and only a few screaming children.
Today has blue skies and billowing cloud banks. I enter the chilly water and swim towards the laps lane only to find a bag of unusual equipment perched on the side. Hm-m-m, doesn't look like lifeguard stuff. And then he is there. A muscled young man in his early 30's with a pleasant face and smile. He is strapping some of this equipment on himself. Whoa, I say,what are those? They are yellow pieces of plastic with holes drilled through them - kind of like Freddy Kruger's mask. "Hand paddles," he says, "doubles the resistance of the water." I'm impressed. There is also a strange-looking scuba device that wraps around his head and a piece of styrofoam that nestles against his crotch and is held in place by his thighs. I did not ask about that. And he has colorful flippers to propel him. In the water he resembles a machine with plastic parts churning and foaming towards me. At the end of the lane he somersaults - a word on the bottom of his purple shorts. I don't know what it is and I do not want to stare. I enter the water unencumbered as even my earrings are left at home. Flipper churns and foams for about ten minutes. During this time Silver Surfer has come onto the scene and she - hah! - doesn't come in the laps lane but stays on the other side of the rope where she has to dodge the walkers. And there are quite a few walkers looming on the horizon like buffalo crossing and recrossing the watery plain. Shortly after her appearance, Flipper tries to get her attention as he is leaving. She's kind of hard of hearing, I tell him. "Tell her I am done," he says. Now what do I do. I guess I can be neighborly even to an elitist. I try to keep up with her my finger poised above her moving body. I touch her. I tell her Flipper is done and she thanks me. We speak no more as we are not sociable swimmers and we are comfortable with that. She stays 30 minutes. Blue Bomber comes on the scene with her blue suit and blue Speedo cap. She is always friendly and we chat briefly and then she is off for her laps. She is another somersaulter at the end of her lane. I cannot tolerate water in my nose anymore. Too many years of smoking and antihistamine medication has left my sinus cavities in a delicate condition. Any small amount of water in that area turns me into a gasping, choking fool. If I need to go under water my fingers pinch my nose shut like any respectable five-year-old must do. Bomber is a heavily, padded woman but I can see where her swimming has left tone and muscle here and there. Her movements are precise and rhythmical. She is beautiful to watch.
The day is lovely and I watch the eagles and turkey vultures floating high above me. Gulls are screeching and the Harleys are roaring as everyone wants to be near the river. I see the cyclists on the floodwall and I think of my brother out on his bike inspecting the swollen creek and river beds. His exercise obsession is actually more intense than my own and he has an enlarged heart muscle to prove it.
I time myself: one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three etc; and I'm doing 28 - 28.5 seconds per one way lap. Sixty-five minutes of swimming - you do the math. Okay, I touch briefly with my feet at the end of the lane but I am a swim goddess amongst buffalo and screaming children.