When I was young, going to the pool was not always a pleasant experience. I was a bit chubby back then and didn’t like the idea of appearing half-naked in public. And being a bit shy, I didn’t really like the idea of being in a crowd of half-naked people, much less being part of some sort of human soup. But like I’ve always done in life, I focused on the bits that were enjoyable. Splashing about with friends in a less inhabited corner of the pool, laying in the sun, and stopping by the concession stand to enjoy a snack. There were many snacks to choose from, all of them perfectly horrible for you and therefore quite delicious. Back then, I enjoyed the hot dogs, which came wrapped in a shiny foil that made them seem gift-wrapped. We’d all been told by our parents that we should wait 30 minutes after eating before getting back into the pool, of course, or we’d get severe stomach cramps and drown. This isn’t quite true, but we didn’t know it at the time, and it was well worth the delay to enjoy that fun midday snack.
Truly, I felt a bit like a freak being the only person I knew who didn’t enjoy public pools. I had the same dislike for roller skating rinks, but that was mainly the fear of falling, which was pretty much guaranteed since I sucked at it. Also, I simply never understood the thrill of rolling around in circles anymore than the I understood the joys of taking a bath with a lot of strangers. None of it made any sense to me. I’d try to join in and “have fun” but it just wasn’t the kind of thing I found to be very fun at all. I wanted to hop on my bike and go exploring until I discovered a place I hadn’t really noticed before. The thrill of the new was what I found fun, so splashing around in one spot or spinning in circles made me anxious. I was certainly content staying in one spot for hours, but only when making something or reading a book. My creative projects always felt exciting because they a new thing would manifest itself and those books took me to places in my mind.
To be fair, I did rather enjoy the pool when it was at a friends house and I knew everyone present. We weren’t the kind of family who could afford a pool. Some of my friends lived on a lake and even had boats. I didn’t like swimming in the lake very much, though. In a pool, you can at least see clear through to the bottom and no what’s swimming beside you. I tried so hard to enjoy what the majority told me I should when I was young. These days, I’ve learned that if you follow your own bliss, life will be so much happier. And there’s always someone, somewhere who will nod their head and think, “yeah, I feel that way too.” No matter what we love, there’s another person who will love it as well. We’re never really alone. And looking back on those days, I realize that even if I couldn’t agree with my friends on the love of public bathing, we were still in perfect agreement when it came to the joy of hot dogs at the pool.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham Watercolors: Azo Orange, Azo Yellow, Pyrrol Red, Dioxazine Purple, Ultramarine Blue, and Neutral Tint. Alvin Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil in an A6 Hahnemühle Watercolor Book.