birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

The Gift Of A Towel

For the past six months I've been doing water aerobics at the San Marino YMCA. I didn't know what to expect when I joined. I was at a very low point in my life because of a knee injury. I was very active in the fitness world as an instructor and participant. I had a very strong Yoga practice usually taking level one, two and three classes 4 to 5 times a week. Not to mention Spin class and Sculpting classes twice a week. I didn't realize how important it was for me to move my body until it was unable to move as I was accustom to. I was really depressed and angry at myself and my body. I was losing hope and tried of being in bed. So I searched high and low on the internet to find a class to fit my schedule. Also not wanting to drive a thousand miles from where I live. I'm a morning workout person I like to be finished with fitness movement by 9:30am, no later then 10:30am. So I was delighted and very pleased to find the San Marino YMCA. Mind you when I joined I couldn't walk at a normal pace. Maybe the pace of a ninety year old mature woman in need of a cane. I couldn't even take the stairs up or down for the full tour of the place. I bought it based on the schedule and pictures on the website. The place looks like it was really fancy in the 1970's. Now its just old and dated. It has a very fancy spiral stair case with a grand entry as you descend towards the locker rooms. It's very intimate like it was a private facilitate at some point. Anyway I'm pleased to be there, just happy to move my body. To participate in the water workout you have to get a pass for shallow or deep water movement. Mine of course is shallow near the deep end so my whole body is in the heated extra large pool. You must bring everything you need for showering after class, mainly your own towel. So about my fourth class in I forget my towel. I realized this after class when ready to shower. One great thing about this YMCA all the ladies are so nice. I was greeted with love, kindness, sympathy, compassion and lots of stories about injuries and recovery. Its like the song from cheers "Everybody Knows Your Name" and they seem to care about your well being. There are no divas or highly vain people in swim class. Everybody in the water seems to be on a mission of health and movement. The deep end of the pool I call them super swimmers, they all are fast and strong. So I forgot my towel, Mary a super swimmer who lives near by and has been at this YMCA for ten years. This I learned about her after she gives me the new towel...with price tag attached. She gives me her new towel to dry off, but not without questions. She wanted to know where I was going after swim. I told her I had to go to work, which was the truth. With a big smile she hands over the towel like a shero saving the day. Telling me "You must dry off so you can get to work." At this point I'm so grateful a little shocked because Mary and I have only seen each other in passing. I feel honored by this act of kindness from a stranger. It's a big gift for me. So my next visit to the YMCA I bring Mary a beauitful beach towel with pride and gratitude for her kindness to me a stranger.


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