September 24, 2016

German Swag 101: Das Stadtbad

I had no idea a swimming pool could become my entire life.

I didn't even feel like I still needed a vacation after great experiences from April through July.

And yet, I ended up at the city swimming pool (das stadtbad) for hours on end nearly every single day for an entire month.

My friends would ask me what I had done all day.

"I went to the pool!" quickly became understood as code for, "I have been sleeping in the sun for over six hours!"

The stadtbad is literally the entire reason I was completely MIA from blogging since August.

It might be better comprehended when I explain that the last time I invested time in any sort of a tan line was in 2006. Last spring I was given the gift (or curse?) of a season pass to the city swimming pool.

I was not in Germany during May or July. But June, August, and the first two weeks of September were unlike any summer I have had in years.

I only had free time. If I actually had something to do, it only ever took about twenty minutes (washing dishes, doing laundry, whatever). Other things (like this blog and keeping in touch with people) totally fell by the wayside.

My priority was the pool, and the pool became my life.

I didn't think much of it in June. Marc and I would go and sometimes see some other people from our sporty jobs. But it was the off-season and most of our friends had returned to their homelands.

August started off slowly. Two of the days, I maybe saw ten total people the entire day. Then the vacations started ending, and the Germans were returning to Vilsbiburg, and back to the pool.

It was only when my foreign friends came back to Vilsbiburg (and the pool, of course), that I began to realize that everyone else at the pool came everyday, too.

The elderly couple that always set up their corner camp, swam their laps, and changed outfits at least three times.

The gymnasts who jumped off the high dives time after time, always wowing us with their crazy twists and flips, but always landing on their feet.

The older man clad in colorful speedo who clearly had been a professional diver at some point in his lifetime.

The ever-evolving group of young teenagers, and, by the end of the summer, it was obvious who was cool and who wasn't. This group also had two bleached blond-haired boys, one of whom always ran across our towels, and the other who was evidently the prince of the pool.

The group of a few excessively obese men smoking cigarettes.

The middle-aged man who diligently did the most loud and splashing butterfly stroke every morning.

The weird guy in Batman underwear briefs who always seemed to sit just close enough to listen to and laugh at my friends' conversations...but he never spoke to any of us.

The flirtatious twelve-year-old boy who made it his ambition to cannon ball right next to my friends and me when we were sitting on the edge of the pool.

The leathery blonde woman who always took up residency on the bench across the pool from us, and I wondered how many years it took her at that spot to look the way she does now.

And then...that group of lazy foreigners, always shouting strange words in English, Swedish, or accented German. They had their spot in front of the diving pool, where they cheered on the impressive jumps or made fun of the hilarious falls. Some of them even braved the high dives, and have the bruises and witnesses to prove it.

By the end of it all, we had gotten sucked into the vortex of life at the pool. I had to take a day off here and there just to remember that I had other clothes besides my bathing suit, and other people had real jobs inside of buildings.

Now the stadtbad is closed for the season, signalling the end of summer and lazy, long lounging days. My once-a-decade tan is already fading, and I am remembering what it's like to [sort of] have a job.

What's there to look forward to now that my pool life is in hibernation?

Finding the pool people in real life and pretending to be friends.