Monday, August 3, 2015

Bought a Swimsuit on Saturday

THAT'S the title of a blog post? Yep.

You see, the last time I went swimming was August 1995, at Round Pound, in the Catskills, where my uncle owns a remote sportsman club with less than a dozen cabins. I was nearly seven months pregnant with Daniel, my sixth and last child. The swimsuit was a size 12, a beautiful blue, and I had bought it in April for a bowling tournament in Warren, Ohio. (We had stayed at a hotel with a pool).

Somewhere, in our still-packed photo albums, there are pictures of me in Round Pond holding Rebekah. I was in the water, but not swimming (because I had the 19-month-old Rebekah. Why would no one watch her so I could swim for a few moments? Because that's not how my family operates. Rebekah was my responsibilty, and one I wanted, so it was all good).

So to (finally) have the opportunity to be in and around water? I'm excited!

I have always equated summer with water and water fun. To me, summer isn't summer without two elements, and water is one of them. Growing up, everything was pools and beaches. We even had a backyard pool. One summer when I was 15, we awakened to find the pool and collapsed. Our cousins from New York were coming in the following week. My parents bought and installed another pool.

Now my mother never used the pool, and eventually, my father and I also stopped using it. When my sister left home (and I was long gone), my parents got rid of the pool.

But I married a man in 1981 that I learned, to my dismay, on our honeymoon that he was afraid of water. So water and the related activities ceased to be a part of my life. I focused on things we could do as a family, except he wasn't fond of family activities.

Fast-forward to 2000, when I married a wonderful man who was a terrific stepfather to my children and loved famiy activities. Turns out, though, he was afraid of water. So I focused on things we could do as a family.

The only time we did pool things was when we hosted youth retreats. He'd sit and watch (and he was cool with that), and I could finally, SWIM!

I thought.

I had owned two suits - the one that fit me, and the size 12 from my final pregnancy days. I always brought both, for invariably, a couple of the girls would forget to pack suits, and I'd give mine up.

Both of them.

Consequently, Denise never swam on those outings. Oh, and on the last trip, the suits never came back with me as the girls forgot to return them, and I forgot to remind them.

Around 2003 or so, one of my goddaughters began inviting us to her house for swimming. But tedious hardworker that I am, I sat in the car on my cell phone, conducting interviews, catching up on phone calls, scheduling appointments. I not only never actually swam, I never really saw exactly what that swimming pool looked like. About that time, I had also developed a sun allergy and the hives that had become chronic, so I was less than keen on jumping into a pool under a hot afternoon sun.

Besides, as a freelancer, if I didn't work, I didn't get paid. I had kids (lots of them). I had a mortgage. I worked, seven days a week. In fact, it was only toward the last year or so that I actually took an occasional Saturday off, and then finally, all of Sunday.

I was tired, physically and mentally.

When we moved into the apartment complex over a year ago, one of the draws was the swimming pool. Of course, we were still recovering financially, and had trepidation we could actually afford to live independently again.

Several months after we moved in, the college where my three youngest work always closes for several weeks, so they had no money coming in. Yes, we got through it, but it also meant no money for swim suits. Long hours at work also meant no time (or energy) to swim. Plus, posted pool hours meant either swimming in the heat of day (hives) or when the pool was full (and fuller) capacity.

Um, no.

This spring, I contacted the property manager who gave me permission to use the pool early in the morning. Lack of transportation, time and extra money put buying a swim suit waaaaay down at the bottom of my priorities. I'd walk past the empty pool early in the day with my Saturday morning coffee, year, maybe?

Then my oldest daughter Sarah Stegall surprised me with a plane ticket to Raleigh (Rebekah saved money for her own). This is extremely generous because Sarah has been working mega overtime in order to save money for when she is off work in late September for surgery - and she recently was off work in July for her son's surgery.

Raleigh means swimming, boating, swimming. Sarah has had her go-arounds with ER visits due to hives, so keeping me safe is a given.

I am soooooooooooooooooo excited!

So on Saturday morning, instead of fiction-writing, Rebekah and I went to buy swim suits. In fact, Rebekah stressed now is the time, as suits are on sale...and rapidly disappearing from sight due to fall clothing replacing them.

I have not tried on a swim suit in 20 years. I have not even looked at or touched one. I wasn't bitter during this time, nothing like that. It simply fell off my radar, one of those things I used to like to do and don't think about anymore because I can't do it - like eating peanut butter because I'm now allergic to it.

All my suits since I had my oldest in 1982 were one-piece, and I am not a fan of one-piece suits. But at the time, it was bikini or one-piece. With a botched C/scar (and many more in various locations to follow, too many docs seeking to make their marks, I guess), one hates to scare other bathers with a bikini. So one-pieces it was.

Well, two-pieces have changed in the last 20 years.

Rebekah and I perused the racks, selected several (ones and twos) and went off to try them on. I liked a certain one-piece a lot, and a certain two-piece better.

I am now the thrilled owner of a two-piece suit. I can't wait to officially use it.

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