Friday, December 3, 2010

I'd Rather be Swimming

For two weekends in a row now, we've all bundled up and trudged over to the Briggitenau Hallenbad--that's German for big-ass public indoor pool and sauna complex. Sunday is warm water day, so the pool is not actually freezing. Last Sunday it was snowing outside--today, there's a blizzard--but in the Hallenbad, V. shrieks with laughter as she leaps over and over again into the kiddy pool.

It's somehow magical--the rippling blue-green water and the bright white spotlights that shine from under the waves. I never learned to swim, but I've always loved swimming pools. I love their scale, the stretch, the emptieness of the space (even when the place is crowded), and especially the deep relaxation and langour that comes from the experience, even if you, like me, just splash around like a blind seal pup.

But a warm indoor pool, on a cold winter day--this is even more perversely enjoyable. When I look out from the great glass walls of the Briggitenau Hallenbad and see the city covered in snow, I think, 'Suckers! What are all you idiots doing out in the cold? Come on in--the water's fine!'

Meanwhile, Adinah's doing underwater somersaults and trying to pull down my trunks. Anette--who knows how to swim--is over at the big people pool, doing 60 or 70 laps. And V.'s having a blast, splashing around in her water wings and Olympic goggles.

Afterwards, we all camp out underneath the hot showers. And I have discovered that it's really delicious to stand shirtless underneath a huge wall-mounted hair dryer. At home, I just towel-dry, but at the Hallenbad, I indulge--the hot air feels excellent on my skin....

Then we all bundle up again and slosh back over the Spittelau bridge. It's still cold and snowy outside, but I feel lighter on my feet. Quite pleasantly dazed and exhausted. Tonight, everyone will sleep like a stone.