I shaved my legs for this?
Running late, frantically feeding the dogs, shoving things into my old black gym bag with the broken zipper, as I make sure there is something for my mom to have for lunch when she comes over to let the dogs out later in the day. Trying desperately to remember what I told myself not to forget, that never works with me, the answer is staunchly standing in a defiant gridlock, arms folded starring down the morning fog in the back of my mind.
At the sink with my freshly washed hair dripping onto the green marble of the counter top, fully dressed I finally think of what it is that I have failed to remember until that very moment. My pants hit the floor as I step back into the shower reaching for my pink handled razor. I nick my ankle in two places, the arsenal of cuss words fly from my mouth as I shove the flimsy toilet paper into the cuts while cramming my feet into each sock, gathering my things I hurry out the back door.
As work comes to an end the internal dialog begins, gently urging my external aching body to get to the gym. It goes on for awhile but in the end, most days I end up passing my exit home on the interstate, opting instead for the cold, chlorinated paradise that awaits me. I change into my swimsuit, pull my t-shirt over my head, grab my towel and put my underwater headphones around my neck as I patter to the pool. All is well, the water feels good and I am in my zone swimming away, then I notice a little boy eyeing the lap pool. There is a giant heated pool that is used by families for swimming, it has a very cool slide the kids love and in my mind it’s where little ones would be happier, over there, out of my way. If I am totally honest, I am kinda terrified of little kids, they have no filter, whatever they think comes spilling out of there sweet little mouths and before you know it I am trying to plead my case to a 6 year old why I am so fat. Plus I have a secret theory that they come over into the lap pool, splash around a bit, pee and then leave.
The little guy couldn’t have been any older than 6 or 7, messy dishwater blonde hair, bony frame holding up his swim trunks that were black and yellow. Just like Batman’s I would later find out.
I just keep swimming, if I ignore him he will go away, just don’t stop, I tell myself. After 4 lengths in the pool, my headphones have fallen out of my ears, I finally relinquish myself to stop and adjust everything.
Oy vey, here we go. I smile at him, not knowing what else to do.
He wastes no time walking himself down the length of the pool toward me.
I am not sure what to think of this guy.
“Nope, I can hear pretty good.”
He points at my headphones, “Those help you hear?”
I take them off of my neck and hold them up to show him. “No, those are actually headphones to listen to music”
He squints at me a little skeptical but very interested, “Under the waaaaddder?”
“Yep, they work under the water.”
He comes closer to me, which terrifies me to no end. I keep myself under water except for my head.
“My Grandpa wears hearing aids, he is over there in the other pool.” He points and waves to Grandpa, who waves back and I find myself waiving right along with everyone.
The man yells across the large open room.
“He bothering you, Ms.?”
I smile and shake my head, “No sir, not at all.”
“Send him on over here if he gets on your nerves. Boy is full of questions about everything, it don’t take long…trust me.”
I begin my swim again, only I am not swimming I am running in the water trying to work on the flexibility in my knee and Achilles. Then I do a side step up one length and back down, I feel him watching me, he just can’t help himself.
Oh Lord help me.
“Why you do that?”
I spit out the water that has seeped into my mouth in a thin stream before I answer, ” I hurt my knee and my foot so I am trying to make them feel better in the water.”
He thinks for a moment and I can see the words pinging around, I wait to see if they will win the battle to escape from his mouth. After a moment of sizing me up, he begins. “I was born hurt, I was sick when I came out of my mom. She was sick too, she took things that made us hurt.”
I feel like someone kicked me smack square in my gut. The strain of my heartbeat hurts in that moment, I feel ill and it’s all I can do not to cry. I don’t know what to say to him, what to do, it came out of my mouth before I thought about it. “Hey wanna try out my headphones?”
I moved closer to him, and he looked me over. As usual I had on a t-shirt in the water over my swimsuit. I watched him, watch me. I knew it was coming, I could feel the swirl of his curiosity create a bubbling whirlpool of anxiety for me.
“Why do you have a shirt on in the pool?”
I looked away and for the second time had no idea what to say to this little boy. How much is too much, how honest should I be with him, as honest as he was with me about his mother? I looked over and his big brown eyelashes are holding giant drops of water on display as he waits for me to reply, his firecracker energy had calmed and the only sound comes from the deafening filtration system.
“I used to be much bigger than I am now, really big, but I am not as big now and my arms don’t look very good, it makes me sad, so I wear a shirt to be more comfortable.”
I take a deep breath and brace myself for his response.
He is wise beyond his years, and he looks right at me and I do not look away, ready for the moment this little boy breaks my heart with his cruel words. I go to turn away and the reply stops my movement in the cool water we share.
“It’s okay, you look great. Hey, let’s race lady. I am not very fast so you will probably beat me.”
I let my eyes fall shut, basking in the moment, letting his words wash over me, again and again I hear them like a cannonball hitting the water next to me, as the tears fall and mix with the chlorine water dripping from my hair.
“Alright, but you should probably wear the headphones they make you swim faster.”
And so we swam, and the little boy with the Batman shorts an the superhero kind heart, beat me in a landslide as we made our way down the final stretch.
When you least expect it, but need it the most, life sometimes brings people together in the most lovely ways. Now when I am doubting myself at the pool, I can hear him sweetly saying, “It’s okay, you look great!” bellowing like a symphony all around me. I walk on.
A few days after I wrote this post I got very sick, and I remained sick for almost two weeks. I caught some toxic stomach virus, and with a compromised immune system it was awful, downright violent and after a week of living on Gatorade and saltine crackers, I just could not get on the scale in good faith and tell you that I had this big weight loss when I knew it was because I was sick. I am beginning to feel better and two days ago began eating some solid foods, I will do a weigh in on Friday of this week.
One more amazing thing to let you know about before I close out this post is that adorable little Lt. Dan found his forever home! He was adopted by a family that will continue to care for him and the challenges with his legs! Thank you so much for all of your donations and support! We will be picking our next doggie to feature soon!
Here is the lucky family!
More soon! Thank you for hanging in there with me.