Okay…so now to put on shoes. Gingerly, she dried her toes, being careful not to let the towel flop into the sopping puddle beneath the bench. Though she instinctively tilted to the other direction, it was important to remember to put her right sock and shoe on first, so that the broader, flatter foot could then support the weight of her left leg lifted over her right knee to put on her left sock and shoe. Done the other way, her left foot bent uncomfortably outwards, trying to support the weight of her right leg as she lifted it over her opposing knee. That caused warping and damage of all the wrong sorts, so it was important to remember the right order of things.
Collecting her towel, costume, shampoo bottle and comb, she was grateful that she travelled light. Given her body’s lopsided lurch, could she pass through that gap? Would the floor be slippery? Was she risking a drop into the pool? Only one way to find out – “Excuse me!” All right this time.
Passing through the swing doors, she balanced carefully so that the door weight would help rather than hinder, and carefully negotiated the stairs down. It looked easy enough, because she had been coming to this pool for almost forty years, but, put her at another poolside, and the vista became more frightening, less certain. She had patterns, places she went and could visit, because they were familiar. Remove that relaxing element of knowing what came next, and she floundered. It all became a bit predictable after a while though. She did long to go somewhere different.
People are not symmetrical, naturally, and there is no harm in that. Mostly, our hips and backs are able to compensate for minor differences, such as one leg slightly longer than its neighbour, or a slightly off-kilter spine. But put the whole mishmash together, and some days, she just wanted to dissolve into the water, so fed up was she with her short-sighted, just about can’t quite get it life. This morning at the pool, for instance, putting on her top and jacket, she leaned against the wall of the cubicle and tears just sprang up and kept coming. She was grateful for poolside noises echoing, which disguised her gulping sniffs. The yearning for release was so intense that she could hardly see her way to leave, to walk down the steps and out the door. But no-one commented as she reached the car, sank into her seat and wept shamefacedly, until she forced herself to stop. Got to go. Lopsided or no, must get on.