I hate going to the swimming pool.
And it's not a passive hatred. It's an active, passionate, and enduring hatred.
I have never understood why people enjoy this pastime. And I'm pretty sure that I never will.
It's a full-scale assault on the senses that makes me want to curl up in a ball and weep.
It begins with the insult of having to put on an article of clothing that only looks attractive on 5% of the population. (Actually, the insult begins with the nightmare of shopping for said article of clothing, but that's another topic.)
And then the pool itself.
You immerse your body in a substance that is constantly in motion. Little waves and changing patterns of light as far as the eye can see (or at least several feet in each direction). Children are flinging themselves through the air with abandon. It's takes concentration to keep track of which ones belong to you. The sun is beating down, making it impossible to raise your eyes above head-level. The reflection of the sun on those myriad waves is blinding, making it impossible not to raise your eyes above head-level. All around you is confusion and chaos. Bodies and waves and light.
The sounds that fill the air are just more chaos. Squeals. Laughter. Talking. Yelling. A hundred little voices crying out, "Mom! Watch me!" Behind all this is the constant sound of water lapping and splashing, and the occasional shrill warble of the lifeguard's whistle.
The air is also filled with the smell of chlorine and a dozen different brands of sunscreen.
It's not enough that this substance you stand in is touching all of your body at once. It is also pushing and pulling against you, never ceasing. The uninhibited activity of the children all around you sends splashes of chemical-filled water through the air. From every direction, like sprays of shrapnel in the face and the back of the head. The sun continues to beat down, until you feel like an insect under a magnifying glass. Your children want to jump to you, hang from you, engage you in their world, in their fun.
When finally you are allowed to leave the water, you are faced with the sensation of your swimsuit - that hated garment - clinging to you, wet and cold. Your sunglasses are covered in spots of dried pool water. Your eyeballs, despite the sunglasses, feel as though they have sunburn.
At home, you run up the stairs and peel off the layers of wet material, hating the way the fabric clings and drags across your skin.
You face a choice: put your body, which so desperately wants to be dry, into a warm shower; or get dressed, knowing you'll smell of chlorine and sunscreen for the rest of the day.
And the worst part? Knowing that you'll have to do it all over again next week. And the week after. And the week after. . . .