I've re-joined the YMCA since I moved back to Prescott. The Y is only about 2 miles from where I live and practically across the street from where I work, so exercising before or after work is not excusable by "It's too far away." I actually love the Y. It's a small town, so you see people you know there. It's a mellow sort of crowd, no meat market. The meat is mostly over age 40 anyway, and some of it is well over age 70!
Lately, I've been enjoying swimming laps, especially in the evenings. I consider myself a fairly strong swimmer, thanks to all those lessons as a kid. I find swimming laps to be almost a form of meditation. I get into a rhythm of just paying attention to my breath, thinking about my form, and not much else. I like the solitude of swimming. I like that I don't really see anyone else in their respective lanes, and so I don't worry too much about comparing myself to others, as I seem to do subconsciously in almost every other area of my life.
However, I do NOT like getting dressed in the locker room after I've finished my swim. I didn't grow up playing sports, and so I really don't "get" the whole locker room thing. Often there will be women standing around butt naked (Is it butt naked or buck naked?), and they don't seem to have a care in the world, but this scene is in an entirely different zip code from my comfort zone.
You are supposed to take a shower before and after you get in the pool. I don't know what happens if you don't follow this rule, but I have been afraid to find out. I shower with my suit on and then I gingerly make my way to my corner of the locker room that I have staked out in advance, hoping to god that there is no one else in my vicinity. I take my bag of clothes out of my locker and get all my items of clothing lined up so that I can jump into them as smoothly as Superman gets into his cape in the phone booth.
That's how I want it to happen, anyway, but it never does.
I shimmy off the top part of my one-piece suit and grab my sports bra. I shove it over my head and arms, and it becomes a solid roll of snake-like bra that coils just above my boobs and shoulder blades, threatening to cut off my circulation while my arms contort in ways that arms should not have to bend in a desperate attempt to unwrap the bra-roll and pull it down where it is supposed to live. I have come close to dislocating a shoulder in this process. Once my bra is on, I feel tremendous relief and am ready to move on to Stage Two.
Stage Two involves wrangling the rest of my suit over my hips and down my legs to my feet, while simultaneously grabbing my sweat pants and underwear which I have pre-packaged so that I (theoretically) only have to step into one set of clothing. But of course, it does not work that way. My skin and my sweat pants have developed some kind of magical adherant property, much like draping a wet paper towel over a damp potato. I drag my pants up with force, one side at a time, pants fighting me all the way, but my underwear stubbornly stays wrapped around my knees inside the pants. So I have to reach in and wrestle them up inside my pants, and that just does not look right. Someday someone is going to call the police on me, I just know it.
Finally, disheveled, but dressed, I am ready to exit the locker room. Once the pain of this dressing experience is over with, I feel that I can blend in as a normal functioning member of society again. And I actually look forward to the time when I can once again slip into the pool and glide smoothly through the water, leaving my clothes and my worries in my wake.