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Life is simple... swim, smile,
and enjoy the people who
populate your world.

One of My Favorite Places

445 words


...or, what I learned in the swimming pool locker room
by Dianne Roth


When I was a little girl, my family would go to the Hot Springs Pool in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The pool is large enough to water ski, though I think that was a once-in-a-lifetime stunt. We would stay all day in the crowded pool and come home fried to a crisp.

We never used the locker rooms, we got into our swimsuits in our tent in the campground and we changed back into clothes in the tent. I guess we were the modest sort.

In middle school and high school PE we were required to take showers. It was painful, modesty had become deeply ingrained. Finally, I discovered a way out. If you just told the attendant, “No shower,” when you checked out a towel, you didn’t have to undress. I never took a public shower again.

I started swimming laps in the YMCA pool in Astoria, Oregon. For a long while I would go to the pool with my suit under my sweats, swim, and climb back into sweats to go home and shower.

Then something changed for me. Maybe it was all the talking and laughing that went on as the women showered and dressed. Maybe it was the lack of concern all those women had. Perhaps I began thinking I was missing something. I wish I could remember what it was, but I started taking my showers at the pool.

At first it was still painful. But, whatever it was that those women knew, I wanted to know it too. They were joyfully unashamed. They were not flaunting, but certainly they weren’t hiding behind towels the way I was. I was jealous of their freedom.

It took years. But, once I started using the locker room, I found a comradarie that appears no where else in my life. Jokes are told, life’s tales shared. And, for about a year we all sang in the shower. Smiles and laughter are everywhere.

And, it is not that “I looked”. Rather, I just saw. There are heavy women and skinny women, short women and tall women. There are dark women and light women and all shades in between. There are old women and young women, small children and babies. There are women with scars and diseases and missing parts. And, I have grown to love them all. They, more than the imperfect perfection in advertisements, are the beautifully imperfect women that people my world. I am so grateful for the generous gift of themselves.

I still swim, but as much as I love to swim, it is in the swimming pool locker room that you will find a smile on my face.


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.




Last updated on September 17, 2013